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13 Apr

EXCLUSIVE: Saint Laurent Creates Film Production Subsidiary

Taking its penchant for film to a recent zenith, Saint Laurent has established a subsidiary dedicated to the full-fledged production of flicks, WWD has learned.

Saint Laurent Productions will make its debut on the Cannes Film Festival next month with two shorts among the many official selection: “Strange Way of Life” by Pedro Almodóvar, and one other to be announced at a later date.

The Kering-owned fashion home is billing itself as the primary to establish a registered subsidiary to supply movies, fairly than merely funding them — or dressing its stars.

While Saint Laurent-produced movies are sure to bring additional visibility to the brand and its aesthetic, they won’t be so-called “fashion movies” and it is known the subsidiary’s intention is to operate profitably. Its movies will likely be sold at film festivals to the same old distributors, including cinemas, streaming platforms and broadcast networks, and profit from the promotional activities accompanying releases.

Detailing the brand new thrust exclusively to WWD and Variety, media platforms owned by PMC, Saint Laurent also revealed it has feature-length projects within the works with filmmakers David Cronenberg and Paolo Sorrentino, perhaps best known for “The Great Beauty,” which won the Oscar for best foreign-language film in 2013.

“These directors never fail to open my mind and, in a way, the singular, radical vision they carry to cinema has made me the person I’m today,” Vaccarello mused.

It is known Saint Laurent Productions will link up as co-producers with Cronenberg’s and Sorrentino’s long-standing collaborators, easing the style firm’s transition right into a recent, competitive and volatile industry.

Foreshadowing the creation of the film production company, Vaccarello recently solid Cronenberg and Almodóvar in a Saint Laurent men’s campaign for spring alongside fellow directors Jim Jarmusch and Abel Ferrera, legends all.

David Cronenberg in a Saint Laurent campaign for spring 2023.

David Sims

The Belgian dressmaker, who took the creative helm of Saint Laurent in 2016, will play a key role in the brand new production foray, including conceiving Saint Laurent clothes and accessories in concert with each director. His name appears under Saint Laurent on posters for the Almodóvar film and the second short that may premiere on the 76th edition of the Cannes festival, scheduled for May 16 to 27.

Saint Laurent didn’t say how much it would spend money on the movies it plans to supply, and it is known it remains to be assembling teams for the brand new subsidiary, which will likely be based in Paris.

Cronenberg’s last film, “Crimes of the Future,” released in 2022 and starring Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart, had a budget estimated at $27 million. Prized as an originator of the body horror category, his best-known movies include “The Fly,” “Dead Ringers,” “Crash,” Videodrome,” “Scanners,” “Eastern Guarantees” and “A History of Violence.”

Official documents registering Saint Laurent Productions SAS list Francesca Bellettini as president of the brand new enterprise, energetic since Feb. 22. Bellettini can also be president and chief executive officer of the Saint Laurent fashion house. She was not immediately available for comment.

Saint Laurent had revealed its involvement in Almodóvar’s recent Western last June. The 30-minute film stars Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal and follows a pair of estranged, middle-aged gunslingers through the Spanish desert.

Like other luxury players positioning themselves as beacons of culture, Saint Laurent has been steadily tightening its ties with different creative fields, including photography, art and design, commissioning exclusive works that relate to brand values like self-expression, while giving each artist creative freedom.

Bespoke movies have been a key focus, with Vaccarello launching Saint Laurent’s “Self” project in 2018, meant as an inventive commentary seen through the lens of Saint Laurent.

Commissions have included movies and pictures signed by writer Bret Easton Ellis, performance artist Vanessa Beecroft, photographer Daido Moriyama, film director Gaspar Noé, in addition to a chapter curated by Hong Kong’s Wong Kar-Wai and directed by Wing Shya. Noé’s film debuted on the Cannes Film Festival in 2019.

Last September, the style house hosted a tribute to legendary French actress Catherine Deneuve through the Venice Film Festival to commemorate her Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement Award.

Its fashion shows in Paris are also a magnet for stars of the massive screen, including the likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg, Olivia Wilde, Zoë Kravitz, Rossy de Palma and Vincent Gallo.

In an exclusive interview earlier this week, Vaccarello said it’s been a thrill and an indulgence to collaborate with the famous filmmakers he grew up with within the ‘90s, confessing that he needed to pinch himself when Almodóvar recently hosted a personal projection of “Strange Way of Life” and the designer saw his name flicker on screen next to that of the Spanish movie maverick. “It was like a dream,” he marveled.

In his view, nevertheless, “Saint Laurent was all the time linked to cinema,” its founder Yves Saint Laurent almost synonymous with “Belle de Jour,” the enduring Luis Buñuel film starring Deneuve as a married bourgeois woman who finds herself working in a brothel, plus a bunch of other movies starring the likes of Romy Schneider, Jean Seberg and Sophia Loren.

Anthony Vaccarello.

Anthony Vaccarello.

Collier Schorr

What’s more, Vaccarello described working methods akin to filmmaking: He devises a personality and a situation first, after which a Saint Laurent collection. “Each time I do a fashion show, for me it’s really about telling a story, like a bit of film,” he related over Teams.

Producing movies, he argued, represents a chance to achieve a wider audience for the brand and “expand the vision I even have for Saint Laurent with a media that stays longer than clothes in a store. For me, a movie is something you possibly can still see in 10, 20, 30 years if it’s a great film.

“Communication-wise, doing a movie has more impact on people than a set,” he continued. “I’m very excited to increase that creativity into something broader and more popular.…It’s a recent approach to perhaps get recent Saint Laurent customers.”

Not that he’s plotting vanilla crowd-pleasers.

The movies he likes “are type of dark, and perhaps controversial.…I grew up watching controversial movies. They make you think that.…It’s good to have those type of people who make you consider something that will not be flat.

“After we produce movies, we’re not nervous if it’s going to shock someone. In fact, I don’t want to offend anyone, but shock sometimes is nice.”

He stressed the importance of leaving filmmakers unshackled to inform the story they envision. “I don’t want it to be a business thing since it’s Saint Laurent,” he said. “A great film is made by someone who feels free.”

Almodóvar has described “Strange Way of Life” as his answer to “Brokeback Mountain,” though Vaccarello said he took pains to avoid any gay cliches within the costumes, hewing closer to Western cliches.

The designer praised Almodóvar for exalting the strength and individuality of girls, typically his essential protagonists in movies like “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” “All About My Mother,” “Bad Education” or “Volver.” He drew parallels to Yves Saint Laurent’s empowerment of girls with pantsuits, trench coats and sheer blouses.

Nevertheless, “Strange Way of Life” sees the director putting men at the middle of his story and treating them with similar brushstrokes – recent turf for the 73-year-old director.

Vaccarello cited positive consumer feedback to the Saint Laurent campaign starring the clutch of silver-haired filmmakers, sparking curiosity amongst young individuals who perhaps had never heard of the likes of Jarmusch, Ferrera and company.

“I like that it opened a conversation and made people aware of those amazing director,” he enthused.

Vaccarrello allowed that Saint Laurent Production’s first projects are heavily skewed to seasoned auteurs, European sensibilities, and to his personal favorites. “In the longer term, there’ll probably more of a concentrate on the brand new generation of filmmakers,” he said.

The designer has been busy reviewing scripts, and envisions an output of 1 or two movies per 12 months, perhaps three if there’s a bumper crop of irresistible projects — or none given the long lead times. “It takes to decide on, to supply, to be really focused,” he noted.

So far as film genres go, “there isn’t a limit, so long as I really like the story and I really like the characters,” he said, while noting that “if it’s something too removed from my aesthetic, or the aesthetic of Saint Laurent, then it’s not something I’m gonna do.”

The designer couldn’t mask his excitement about working together with his cinema heroes.

He’ll attend the Cannes Film Festival next month, mount its famous red steps, and relish the energy of the gathering.

“It’s like a fashion week — it’s a moment where everyone seems to be in the identical location to see movies and to do business,” he said. “Cannes is the most effective festivals, and since Saint Laurent is a French brand, it’s very vital for us to be there.”

What’s more, Vaccarello said fashion has all the time been intertwined with other creative fields.

“It’s nothing recent. We’re human. I’m going to the theater, I’m going to the cinema, I take heed to music. Fashion is the distillation of all those fields together. Fashion can’t be only clothes with no story. Fashion needs a story.

“Fashion, cinema, art — it’s a part of me, it’s a part of what I’m doing,” he concluded. “Saint Laurent is a cinematic brand.”

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