For autumn-winter 2022, Ludovic De Saint Sernin took a slightly different path than usual. The new season pressed current Y2K generational fashion buttons, but also signaled de Saint Sernin’s design ability to think through what might come after that. A part of the thrill for him is belonging to the all-about-me self-invention of social media. So he walked in his own show – in a brown crepe open-necked shirt and matching flares, flanked by a couple of lanky lookalikes. “Welcome to my life,” he declared beforehand. “This is what I do. It’s about owning up to being who you are, your own muse.” He loved the fact that Gigi Hadid appeared in a big shirt and white boots, channeling “the Malibu girl going out in her boyfriend’s shirt. Like all the celebs I grew up with who were being chased by tabloid paparazzi in the 2000s – like Paris and Britney. “ Bella, as the finale, wore an almost sheer black chiffon halterneck dress “a bit like a nightdress. For when you have to go on the red carpet at the end of the day, but would really rather be in bed.” De Saint Sernin is known for his overtly sexy, libertine, gender-blurring crystal mesh bras and halters – and his signature cross-laced fly jeans. All of that was there, now logo’d with a LDSS sparkly print. He extended that further into body-con dressing for boys: a black leather miniskirt; a crossover jersey crop-top. But the big surprise in his collection was a whole other thing: minimal elegance in shades of brown and taupe (which instantly reminded me of a Jacquemus collection from a couple of seasons ago). Overcoats, a long bustier column dress, a brown shirt and skirt: luxurious oversized sweaters. It stood apart, in a preternaturally accomplished way. “I wanted to push the idea of daywear,” Ludovic concluded. “Because everyone’s doing mini-mini, as I have. But I thought it would be cool to go elegant and long.” It made for an glimpse of where de Saint Sernin, and his whole generation might be headed with their fashion desires.
On Ludovic de Saint Sernin’s runway, heat and sex are regular ingredients. For the young French pioneer of sex positivity in fashion, his steamy return to what the industry is calling “physical” shows was pulsating with a whole other layer of significance. “I feel like we were in such a digital world for like a year-and-a-half that it was really critical for me to reconnect with physicality and sensuality, in a way that you could almost grab it,” said De Saint Sernin behind his co-ed spring-summer 2022 fashion show titled “Désir“. He wove all of that pent-up tension into a collection that stretched tiny strands of leather into minuscule dresses and taut bodices equally across genders to eye-popping effect. “We wanted to showcase the artisanal feel of the collection,” he explained. “All these pieces are entirely braided, knotted, and laced by hand. There’s no sewing at all. It’s really body formatted.” De Saint Sernin has been well ahead of the generational game of blurring underwear with outerwear. His easy, elasticated-waist, pajama-like pants and shirts and leather bralettes are part of this. This season it also meant a semi-sheer smocking technique, used in dresses and shirts cut to cling and strain at buttons, and delicate, semi-transparent fabrics, like laddered knits. “Mermaid, California-gothic girlfriend” is how he described the inspiration for overtly glam transparencies in crystal-beaded fishnet: a one-shoulder dress, a couple of miniature sparkly sarongs. His two finale dresses hinted at either having been shipwrecked or wrecked from a long night of partying. De Saint Sernin has a burgeoning business in his flared jeans with eyelet-laced flies, shown again this season with split hems. The signature eyelet was also an unmissable feature on a black thong. It was, he remarked with a straight face, “just a little teaser,” because Pornhub sponsored his show, and he has a collaboration with the porn site coming next spring. Of course this makes complete sense. There’s just one thing the designer might consider for the future: inviting a wider range of body shapes to his model casting. Everybody want to look and feel sexy, right?