Hands up: Ludovic de Saint Sernin

October 3, 2021
Photo credits : Laurence Benaïm

He speaks of mother, whose surname he has kept, as though a friend. “There are 31 years difference between us”. The most erotic appearance of the 2021 Opera Gala has a seamless itinerary: Brussels, London, Paris. And here, on the fifth floor of this building on rue Réaumur, the light is clear; the “soft skin” colours of a collection called Désir caress the eye. Ludovic de Saint Sernin reveals Summer 22: less gender fluid, more feminine: a realm with no other manifesto than that of uncovered sensuality. A nudity brushed in contact with the fabric that he has made his signature in just a few seasons. As though showing through fashion what Herbert List or Wolfgang Tillmans have captured with their lens. Intimacy without any other artifice than a row of eyelets, of sequins (a first), of leather lace – of materials that play with light and shadow. The hand taps continuously on the white screen of the iPhone with 153k followers: “my community,” he says. Around him, others tie, untie, assemble, unravel – actions like holograms in space. Supporting characters in black, invisibly present. At Balmain, where he was a studio assistant, he learned the art of lacing; and the ribbons of pale leather weave endlessly, lasciviously hugging all curves. It is in savoir-faire and craftsmanship that de Saint Sernin fulfils his lifelong obsessions: “As a child, I was madly drawing Ariel” (A Little Mermaid reference). “My virgin side that forces me to be in perfection,” he says of these sketches, done as precisely as possible back then. These days, there is no longer time for much drawing. Everything is happening in an increasingly tactile, intuitive way. When he began to “unravel” a Swarovski crystal dress, he found meaning “in the defect”, revealing a side view. He lets go without losing control. He returns to the foam of the shore – to the liquid sensation of a wave on the skin, wild silk, silk jersey or dune-coloured modal, jeans with rock nuances that are fully hand-tapered. This season, Désir, the name of a medieval knight, has become a boxer who fights with bare hands, a muse with a huge body. Ariel is there, always. An oceanic Amazon, the youngest of King Triton’s seven daughters, fights against the sea witch. “The most important thing, says de Saint Sernin, is that the person feels embraced by what they are wearing. A beautiful piece of clothing is a hug”. Ready to kiss, to love, to hug. @laurence-benaim

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