Saint Laurent SS23 Is A Tribute To Marrakech

Let's all go to the desert

Saint Laurent SS23 Is A Tribute To Marrakech
Yaseen Dockrat

While we love a fashion show in the metaverse, it’s so good to see collections return to the real world right now. Just ship us off to some outrageously exotic location, sit us down and start the show. Case in point: Saint Laurent’s SS23 menswear show in Morocco’s Agafay Desert. 

This wasn’t location for the heck of it. It was personal, real. A tribute to Yves Saint Laurent’s love of Marrakech and the moment of umbilical connection that began after a visit there with his partner Pierre Bergé in 1966.

So it made sense for Saint Laurent creative director Anthony Vaccarello to head back to Yves’s spiritual home and stage his SS23 show in the Agafay Desert, roughly an hour’s drive from Marrakech.

This was a show years in the making. And not just because of pandemic delays. The Es Devlin-designed set was inspired by Beat legend Paul Bowles’s 1949 novel The Sheltering Sky. It included a mirrored amphitheater, dusky red seats and a body of water that gave the impression of a mirage in the scorching desert.

Marrakech and Saint Laurent

After his first visit, the designer would fall love with the city and used it as a sanctuary  to escape the bustle of Paris. It was here that Yves designed elaborate collections and entertained friends.  This year has even seen a travelling exhibition: LOVE – Morocco Opened My Eyes to Colour, juxtaposing Yves work with the Moroccan art that inspired it. 

The love affair seems mutual. Today there is a street named after him in the old city, a museum dedicated to his work, and Majorelle Gardens, that Yves preserved along with Pierre.

The Collection

As the sun set behind the dunes in Agafay, models walked draped in sleek black satin suits, silk chiffon tops, loose trench coats, and trousers that flared at the bottom. The collection offered an elegant rendition of masculinity. Wide-legged and high waists were occasionally interrupted with narrow and boxy accents.

The collection was relaxed, reflecting the ease of life Yves enjoyed in Marrakech.

Sarin jackets were looser, fluid, and less constructed, while coats enveloped the body almost to the ground, and tailored jackets featured graphic sharpness. Vaccarello reintroduced Grain de Poudre and used the finely tactile wool fabric to craft several looks.

The show notes included words from Bowels’ novel,  “We think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”

The collection was Vaccarello continuing the brand’s tradition of androgyny. A tradition that Yves so elegantly began, inspired by the beauty of Marrakech.