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8min of reading

From the Faces issue

What is your first memory of fashion?

When I was a kid, one of my mother's fashion-loving friends knew that I already wanted to be a designer, and she used to record the Yves Saint Laurent fashion shows by Yves Saint Laurent on VHS (yes, I've just turned 33). It was magical, watching religiously in a light-filled living room while they chatted in the garden.

Do you have a vivid memory of the LVMH Prize for which you were a finalist in 2018?

It was at the LVMH Prize that I met Bella Hadid for the first time, officially. We'd already met at Balmain when she was doing her first season as a model, but I was working for Olivier Rousteing at the time, so it was a bit different. She's one of the most beautiful women in the world, and there she was in front of me, curious about my work, eyes shining, with this incredible kindness and generosity. You could tell she took her mission very seriously, and that really touched me, because I was obviously new to the business. I immediately sensed that this would be the start of a long collaboration and a wonderful friendship. Then we both found ourselves on my runway for my "All The Rumors Are True" show, and it was magical.

What did the LVHM Prize do for you?

In a way, the competition changed my life, because it gave me the opportunity to meet talented people in the fashion world who I wouldn't have had access to so quickly. I also loved discovering other designers with whom I'm still friends today. We support each other and this solidarity is precious.

Is there an LVMH Prix finalist you particularly admire?

Yes, there are many, but I would say Demna (Gvasalia). The universe he created for Balenciaga is very powerful.

Where do you draw your inspiration for a collection?

Ever since my very first collection, I've been inspired by what I experience. Ludovic de Saint Sernin is an autobiographical brand. It tells the story of a boy who discovers himself day by day and reveals himself to himself within a proud, no-holds-barred queer community. It's very important to me that each collection evokes messages that are dear to our values, and makes visible communities that haven't always been highlighted. For "Lust", my latest collection, which tells the story of a summer romance at La Colombe d'Or in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, I also drew inspiration from films such as Une Robe d'Été, Jeune & Jolie, Call Me By Your Name and L'Inconnu du Lac.

Where do you feel most comfortable working?

At home, without a doubt, in my apartment in the Marais district of Paris. It's very quiet and relaxing, it's almost empty and that puts me in the right conditions to stay focused. But in reality, I travel all the time and work just as well from a chaise longue by the sea as from a studio in the city. When you have your own brand, it's very rare to be able to stop completely.

Your models are often young, natural ephebes, with a touch of daring sensuality but also candor. How do you choose them?

When I was a fashion student, I worked with casting director Dominique Vinant, who taught me everything I know. Casting is all about a brand's identity, its values and its specificities. I think I choose a model because her being speaks to me, her attitude, her voice, her look, her hair. Like in a mirror, I look for myself in them. I'm looking for sensitivity, courage too. This tension between sensuality and candor is therefore essential in the search for a model to embody LdSS. It's a starting point, the beginning of a conversation with the viewer, who can write the ending if he wishes.

Your creations are like the promise of a scorching Endless Summer. Are summer, heat, light and light tones important elements for you?

Absolutely, a scorching summer is a recurring theme at LdSS. It's almost inescapable, it's nostalgic, too. I tell stories that I'm living today, but also that I wish I'd lived when I was younger, so there's an element of reality and fantasy. Summer is the time when the body reveals itself, and what a joy it is to feel the sun on your skin, to close your eyes and feel good, fulfilled. I was born on August 28, so summer's my favorite time of year, it's vacation and adventure.

Your creations are imbued with dreamlike sensuality and homoeroticism. What role does sexuality play in your creations?

Contrary to what you might think when you meet me today, I discovered my homosexuality very late in life. I was 24 when I spent my first night with a man, and it was then that I discovered a new world and a new community, the queer community. I was 26 when I presented my first collection, and I wanted to tell the story of this self-discovery. Like a diary, my collections tell the story of this exploration, and sexuality is part of it. It was also important for me to tell a queer story in which sexuality is revealed in a happy, positive way. A spotlight to raise awareness that gay, queer, etc. sex is natural and beautiful in order to take the shame out of it, too.

You often quote Robert Mapplethorpe as a reference. How does this cult figure inspire you?

I discovered Robert Mapplethorpe's story through Patti Smith's book Just Kids, which really touched me. I recognized myself in him right away, and it was he who inspired my brand. He successfully dared to be himself. He told the story of his life as a gay man in the New York of the 70s and 80s, photographing very personal subjects and exploring his fantasies, revealing them to the world without shame and with tenacity. He looked at a flower the same way he looked at a penis. Affected by the AIDS virus, he was keenly aware of the need to preserve his work, while fighting to develop research. He even set up a foundation to support photography and AIDS research, which I think is admirable.

Can you tell us about one of your creations that made the biggest impression on you?

I'm thinking of the first look in my latest "Lust" show. I chose Sascha, a gorgeous and elegant young model, a trans woman, who was opening her first show at LdSS. She wore a virginal dress, a natural white, with our signature eyelet neckline and a silhouette like a mermaid's tail raking the waves as she walked to music taken from François Ozon's film Jeune & Jolie. In her hands was a metal sculpture created in collaboration with long-time artist and friend Diego and his VAGUJHELYI brand. It was breathtaking.

The title of this issue is "Faces". How important is the face to you?

The face is life. It tells us who we are, what we like and where we've been. When I choose a face, it's very particular, as if I had to draw it myself. But the face cannot be dissociated from the body. It's animated by attitude, the way you walk and move. The face alone isn't always enough.

Can you name a face that inspires you and why?

The first that comes to mind is Indiana, a Dutch model I've been working with for several seasons now. A muse of the house. He has an incredible face, with sublime fluidity and confidence. He reminds me of a young Natalia Vodianova. He's breathtaking.

How would you describe the face of youth?

I realized recently that the fashion I design today is for the teenager I was. A teenager who grew up in a completely heterosexual and conservative environment, while I dreamed of fashion and discovering how the rest of the world lived. So it's very important for me to create a universe that inspires a curious, free and supportive youth. I believe that the face of youth is a face on which you can read dreams that are just waiting to be realized.

What's your idea of perfection?

That's a cruel question to ask a virgin! Virgins have an immense thirst for perfection, and that's what drives me and tortures me at the same time. It's my greatest quality and my greatest flaw. At a dinner in New York, Marc Jacobs confided in me that, despite so many years of experience, this feeling of dissatisfaction is still there. We have to figure out how to make this quest for perfection constructive and positive.

Do you have a credo in life?

I'm the co-star astrological app that sends you messages every day like a horoscope. Today it's "Stay ravenous".

A few words about your next collection?

All I can say is that it's a dream come true and it's magical.


In conversation with Ludovic de Saint Sernin's dog
Decoding by Saveria Mandella
I constructed myself in deconstruction.
A discussion on Deconstruction with Micha Barban Dangerfield
Interview by Alice Pfeiffer
Styling Anna Personen
By Cécilia Musmeci
"video games have become a mass culture"
Decoding by Isabelle Constant
Interview by Jean-Christophe Husson