Saint Laurent Shines a Spotlight on Vanessa Beecroft’s Sensual Polaroids

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Vanessa Beecroft at Saint Laurent, Rive Droite
Photography by Vanessa Beecroft, Courtesy of Saint Laurent

The Italian artist and photographer dissects the label’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection in a new exhibition at its Rive Droite boutiques

Back in 2018, Vanessa Beecroft shot a coterie of black-clad models under the Eiffel Tower, joining the ranks of cultural icons – from Wong Kar-wai to Bret Easton Ellis – that have been selected to contribute to Saint Laurent’s SELF series. Now, Anthony Vaccarello has invited the Italian photographer and performance artist back for a new and exclusive exhibition at the label’s Rive Droite boutiques in Paris and Los Angeles.

Revolving around the sleek and sophisticated collection that Saint Laurent unveiled for Spring/Summer 2023, the series of 14 polaroids hones in on the small details. A quilted suede handbag peeks out from beneath a coat sleeve; bejewelled accessories shimmer in the camera’s flash; Vaccarello’s sheer, monochromatic layering is captured in close-up; cropped portraits showcase plunging necklines and faces concealed behind outsized sunglasses.

Collaborations with fashion brands “are complicated and dialectical relationships”, Beecroft told AnOther in 2021. They also represent just one facet of her critically-acclaimed career, which comprises painting, sculpture, video art, photography, and performance, from fashion-centric Yeezy catwalks to mass nude tableaux vivants. Throughout it all, though, the artist has maintained a sharp focus on the politics and aesthetics of the female body, exploring the contrasts between clothing and nakedness, the collective and the individual, what makes people strong and what makes them vulnerable. The allure of a collaboration with Saint Laurent is obvious.

Vanessa Beecroft isn’t alone in bringing a distinct artistic vision to the Rive Droite stores, which were envisioned by Vaccarello with a nod to Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic rive gauche line and a mission to showcase creatives across various fields. Earlier this month, the Beijing-based photographer Lin Zhipeng (AKA No.223) also filled the stores with his sexually-charged portraits of Chinese youth, another tender exploration of fashion’s relationship with the body.

While Beecroft’s polaroids are on show at the Rive Droite stores – where they’ll also be up for sale – a unique booklet will also be made available for visitors, illustrating the artist’s latest collaboration with the label. Take a closer look at the featured photographs in the gallery above.