Saint Laurent SS23 was inspired by the radical choreography of Martha Graham
By Alex James Taylor | Fashion | 28 September 2022

First performed on 8th January, 1930, inside Maxine Elliot’s Theater, New York, Martha Graham’s solo dance piece Lamentation saw the US avant-garde dancer and choreographer encase dancers in long tubes of material, hooded over their head and around their arms. As music by the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály played, the dancer moved, causing tensions and shapes as their body struggled against the material – creating a kinetic art piece designed as the personification of grief itself. You may have seen Andy Warhol’s iconic Lamentation series depicting the performance.

Lamentation’s cultural influence was profound, and filters through the archive of Yves Saint Laurent: distinctly his hooded chiffon dresses made in collaboration with Claude Lalanne in 1969, and the designer’s hooded ‘capuche’ silhouettes of the mid-80s.

Here, in Paris, 2022, at the Jardins du Trocadéro – transformed into an exquisite paved terrace centred around a cascading fountain – Vaccarello interpreted Yves’ hooded motifs for a new generation: reimagined in columnar shapes that danced around the body and wrapped the head, reminiscent of Grace Jones’ Bond hitwoman May Day. And you know what else is very May Day? Oversized, boxy leather perfectos with broad, padded shoulders. We got those too, alongside sweeping floor-length coats and elongated frames that morphed with each look. Some were narrow-shouldered and flowed downwards in a similar manner to the Effiel Tower silhouette behind them, others built from the shoulders in a tough, futuristic mood – only amplified by the techno-classical score that floated through the Parisian night sky.

It was about tension and strength, glamour and power. Earthy tones evoked Yves’ Marrocco, while sculptural wood and gold jewellery nodded to Vaccarello’s FW22 inspiration, activist publisher Nancy Cunard. Last season Vaccarello took us on a desert trip, this season was a dramatic urban dance. 

GALLERYCatwalk images from Saint Laurent WOMENS-SPRING-SUMMER-23