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In fashion, credits are everything.
This week in Cannes, French fashion house Saint Laurent graduated beyond “who are you wearing?” to “who made that movie?” courtesy of the world premiere of Pedro Almodovar’s gay Western Strange Way of Life starring Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal.
Because credits are crucial, now is the time to point out that not only is the 30-minute gay Western presented by the house, Saint Laurent received associate producer credit while creative director Anthony Vaccarello served as the costume designer for the 1910-set pic.
There’s one more: The collaboration serves as the official debut of Saint Laurent Prods., an expansion that gives the house bragging rights as the first brand fully invested in producing films. Per official intel from Saint Laurent, the division sparked from the vision of Vaccarello who has long focused his eyes on the cinematic arts.
Saint Laurent’s newest push may come as no surprise to Cannes audiences following an earlier partnership with provocateur Gaspar Noé on his 2019 festival entry Lux Æterna. That film started as a Saint Laurent-backed fashion commercial that morphed into an experimental odyssey featuring a series of vignettes (strobe lights and all) starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Beatrice Dalle, Abbey Lee and Karl Glusman.
Strange Way of Life has a more traditional narrative structure rooted in Western lore — with a gay twist. It opens with Pascal’s Silva riding a horse across the desert to visit an old friend Jake, who now works as the country sheriff. They haven’t seen each another in 25 years after a lust-filled, two-month escapade in Mexico. Upon reuniting, they share a home-cooked meal followed by late-night romp. The next morning ulterior motives are revealed (as well as Pascal’s bare butt).
By linking with Almodovar on his latest, Vaccarello and his Saint Laurent team obviously paid great attention to all the sartorial details. Per the production notes, they took inspiration from Western wardrobes from the early to mid-1900s, and as expected all the looks are impeccably tailored and add richness to the storytelling.
Pascal’s green jacket is a close replica to the one worn by James Stewart in Anthony Mann’s 1952 film Bend of the River. In another scene, the son of Pascal’s character is outfitted in a look that can be traced to the style of Burt Lancaster in Robert Aldrich’s 1954 film Vera Cruz. Hawke’s county sheriff is modeled after looks worn by late legendary star Kirk Douglas in films like 1957’s Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and 1959’s Last Train from Gun Hill.
“I have re-watched many westerns so as not to fall into anachronisms and the truth is that the male wardrobe has changed very little,” said Almodovar in a statement with Vaccarello adding, “I have always admired the women in Pedro’s films, both strong and vulnerable. In Strange Way of Life his male characters have the same complexity.”
After the film’s world premiere, Hawke said he “just enjoyed being able to [make a movie] with people that care a lot,” a compliment directly tied to wardrobe choices. “Pedro cares a lot about every detail,” he explained. “If it’s the fabric, do the stripes go this way or do they go that way — I mean, every detail. All the great people that I’ve ever worked with in my life have an almost obsessive relationship to detail.”
Same goes for designers. Saint Laurent paid special attention to Wednesday’s launch, making sure to put an exclamation point on every inch of the Palais red carpet.
After the Strange Way of Life team hit the Debussy for their screening, they headed to the night’s big premiere of Monster in the early evening. Almodóvar, Hawke, Steane, Condessa, Fernandez and Rios were all decked out in Saint Laurent as was Vaccarello who also designed looks worn by bold-faced name attendees like Blackpink’s Rosé, Soo Joo Park, Talia Ryder, Abby Lee, Anja Rubik, Laura Harrier, Iris Law, Elodie Bouchez and Inès Rau.
But now that Saint Laurent has put a chic stamp on Cannes, they will soon face the inevitable Hollywood question: What ever will they do for a sequel?
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