If you hadn’t noticed, Saint Laurent’s collaborations haven’t been restricted to only the fashion-side of things. The Parisian fashion house has had longstanding partnerships with a whole breadth of creatives — artists, musicians, photographers and the like — spanning everything from fashion to exhibit-specific installations.
Saint Laurent’s most recent effort was perhaps its most ambitious yet. Launched simultaneously across six different cities around the globe — Paris, London, New York, Seoul, Tokyo, and Shanghai — was SELF 07. For the uninitiated, Saint Laurent’s SELF series is an ongoing artistic commentary on society done the Saint Laurent way.
SELF 07 explored that through the lens of six photographers based in the aforementioned cities as a way of connecting them together in an intangible fashion. The partnership this time around was with photography co-op Magnum Photos, and saw photographers Harry Gruyaert, Olivia Arthur, Alex Webb, Daesung Lee, Takashi Homma, and Birdhead contributing to the project with original works done specifically for Saint Laurent.
“I have always been fascinated by airports. They are places that concentrate everything that usually catches my eye as a photographer: the interplay of light, transparency and reflections, the effects of superimpositions that create a loss of
reference points and give this very strong impression of being between two worlds.”
— Harry Gruyaert, Paris
“Working with Anthony Vaccarello’s creations for Saint Laurent SELF 07, with movements, interactions, and play, I looked to show the way we touch, connect, and relate to each other. An exploration of the physical world in natural and unnatural forms is also key for me in showing the limits of our physicality. Our virtual worlds have grown to become a genuine reality and as technology creeps we need to remind ourselves of the hard feeling of a hand on a wall or the clatter of pebbles falling over each other.”
— Olivia Arthur, London
“As a street photographer, I’ve long been drawn to the brilliant colour, searing light, and intensity of life that I first encountered in the streets of Latin America and the Caribbean. So when I was asked by Anthony Vaccarello to photograph Los Angeles in the spirit of Saint Laurent for SELF 07, I immediately thought of three culturally-rich downtown neighbourhoods — the Pinata District, the Flower District, and the Fashion District — whose deep shadows, brightly painted walls, and vibrant streets are reminiscent of Mexico, where I’ve often wandered.
— Alex Webb, New York
“Spring 2020 was surreal but real. The whole world stopped. No one could easily describe such a feeling in words. Ironically, nature revived and came back to us once we stopped being indoors. Nature gave us back all the forgotten senses. The sky was so blue, more than ever, birds were singing so loudly out of my apartment window and the leaves of the trees in the streets were greener than ever. It was such a surreal experience. Since then, I no longer see the world in the same way.”
— Daesung Lee, Seoul
“The City and Fashion. We live in a huge city called Tokyo. We, dressed in clothes, live and act in the environment of Tokyo. Our actions are in fact constrained and guided by the pressure of the city of Tokyo. I used the camera obscura technique to
capture and exhibit the Tokyo environment that surrounds us. The city and fashion are always in a one-to-one relationship.”
— Takashi Homma, Tokyo
“Inspired by the harmonic and symbiotic relationship between species that exists in nature, the work exhibits the tangible connection between photographs. The overall contour lines up the cityscape, clothing, and body with natural elements like clouds,
trees, and stones. This outline combined with the structure of different light and shade blocks, creates a smooth and free sense of integration, just like the gesture of the cursive script in Chinese calligraphy.”
— Birdhead, Shanghai