Doug Aitken and the total artwork for Saint Laurent

Commissioned by Anthony Vaccarello for his latest fashion show, the physical and conceptual installation Green Lens created by the American artist in Venice becomes a kaleidoscope to discuss the future with an eye to history.

At the latest fashion shows in Venice, an event quickened fashion’s role as the architecture of the future, social design, a laboratory in which the coordinates of space and time, light and matter, identity and community, provide answers to community issues. And they foreshadow a future already present.

Saint Laurent FW 2022 men's show video

La Certosa is an island in the lagoon across from the church of San Pietro and the monastery built by Carthusian friars in the early 1400s to cultivate the 22 hectares of the island. In the 16th century, the Serenissima turned it into an arsenal and Napoleon into a training area for (armed) supporters of his Republic. Here Anthony Vaccarello, Saint Laurent’s young creative, effectively demonstrated the leap in the global luxury industry’s role. He showed that fashion’s content is no longer just an object or product, but increasingly a form, a set of intangible, value-based identifying elements that embody the true value of whatever we buy. Fashion as culture, a polycentric and open-ended matrix, is a door to the future, because it responds to today’s issues. Vaccarello is moving swiftly towards the future, responding to the watchwords of our time: fluidity, inclusion, stopping climate change and sustainability. Not only by making a collection inspired by the seventies for very young people with impossible waistlines, clearly referencing the Asian physique and market as well as gender fluidity. But by offering a physical and conceptual platform to the American artist Doug Aikten, well known for his ideas about the future of community life. This is the genesis of Green Lens, an imposing (yet lightweight) installation resembling the geodesic dome in the unforgettable movie Silent Running (1972), where a space greenhouse is launched behind Saturn to save the surviving vegetation from indiscriminate urban growth.

Saint Laurent Men's Spring Summer 2022 fashion show, Venice

“The aim was to combine the creative disciplines through art and fashion, so fusing artistic visions from different fields into a single work,” explained Vaccarello. But the result does more, creating “a kaleidoscope to talk about the future, to see how to get there, and the changes in society. Culture is our only tool, the most powerful one we have, perhaps the only truly human one,” says Aikten. Green Lens helps clarify another misconception in the art/architecture/fashion relationship. It is not just a media event, but the creation of true content that answers the same questions as architecture and social design. A content in which clothes are one factor, but not the only one and perhaps not the most important.

Saint Laurent is significantly one of the biggest brands in Kering, the global luxury giant chaired by François-Henri Pinault, the enlightened magnate who loves Venice and has invested energy and resources in cultural projects for years. Two of the most important concern us closely: the Teatrino di Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, entrusted to the genius of Tadao Ando, ​​guest editor of Domus 2021. A further sign that the ultimate goal of the global luxury industry, whether in fashion or hospitality, is to create values ​​and meanings. Otherwise the game is already up. Vaccarello sees Green Lens as “the urge to look to the future without forgetting the past and history, just like the collection, which mingles past and present, projecting them into the future”. Aikten sees it as the symbol of an “essential dialogue, a total artwork we can walk inside and observe the botany, real vegetation that shows where we are now and see how essential it is to inject the present into our lives to redress the balance with an environment that we have destroyed – and that Napoleon bombarded” (he smiles).

For us, viewing the world from Domus, it is the tangible sign that repairing the ties between humanity and nature, the sustainability increasingly reduced to rhetoric, often comes more from the industrial, artificial and material worlds than ecological, natural and ideological ones. Open until the end of July, the reflective octagon of Green Lens received hundreds of visitors to the island on the free ferries organised by Saint Laurent. And the materials will be recycled and reused, the vegetation planted on the site around the ruins of the convent and on its shores, restructuring work financed by the French fashion house.

Opening image :
Saint Laurent Men's Spring Summer 2022 fashion show, Venice

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