Bringing Sexy Back (into Menswear): Ludovic de Saint Sernin is the Third Instalment in our 10 Designers to Meet
Instead of asking one person to curate their world for us, for Issue 51 of 10 Men, we presented our own list of designers who we think are making menswear sexy again. While some like the instant reveal and others prefer the more subversive kind of erotica, they’re all giving us hope for a hotter tomorrow. Third time’s a charm, and it just happens our third designer to meet is the ever so charming Ludovic de Saint Sernin.
When it came to curating a list of 10 designers bringing back and reinventing what sexy means in terms of modern masculinity, a name that was yelled out repeatedly was that of Ludovic de Saint Sernin. The Belgium-born, Paris-based fashion designer founded his namesake label after leaving Olivier Rousteing’s design team at Balmain in 2016 to pursue his own creative identity. And while there is some of Rousteing’s outré sex appeal in his work (the two designers remain friends), de Saint Sernin has since paved the way for a community of people who love to show off everything they’ve got, particularly ones who are unmistakably, unapologetically and proudly gay.
Erotic subversion and its many interpretations have taken form in de Saint Sernin’s collections. In addition to his brand-orientated public Instagram, the designer also runs a private, homoerotic account (@ludovicdesaintserninx), which toys with the social-media platform’s rigid censorship guidelines and stars mostly nude male bodies only ever so slightly covered with some of de Saint Sernin’s designs. His revealing briefs that lace up in the front, back and sides were originally presented in his SS19 collection, before going viral the following season when he sent a model wearing only a Swarovski-crystal-encrusted pair and black military boots down the catwalk. Chic, non?
In his work, which now also includes skimpy dress options and is self-defined as genderless, de Saint Sernin treats both his male and female models like Naomi, Linda and Cindy were portrayed in the 1990s. Untouchable divas with sex appeal worn on their sleeve – if there even is a sleeve involved… In terms of designer idols, de Saint Sernin namechecks Helmut Lang and Christophe Lemaire, as well as Azzedine Alaïa, of whom he says: “He managed to achieve with womenswear what I want to achieve with menswear.”
For his SS20 show, titled Wet’n’wild, the line-up included a look with just a fine, mohair-knitted towel wrapped around the model’s waist, with lucky frowers getting a peek of more than just a little cheek. The silk organza suits and dresses were wet through, sticking to the skin of models walking around the conceptual pool atop the Pompidou Centre. “It was an homage to all my summer fantasies, to being wet all summer long, either because of sweat or because you’ve been for a dip in the pool or the sea,” says the designer.
Now with an Andam Prize win and LVMH Prize nomination, both in 2018, under his Swarovski-spangled belt (he has an ongoing partnership with the crystal brand) and dedicated fans following his every step, it looks like de Saint Sernin is becoming the Rick Owens of the internet age.
What was the first garment you ever created?
“Ha, this particular story is slightly embarrassing, but I guess also sort of cute… Believe it or not, before I was sure of my sexuality, I had a huge crush on this girl called Elisa in high school. I made my first dress for her – a little black dress. Backless, short and elegant. I made it to her measurements, and when it was ready I gave it to her and she loved it! She looked perfect in it.”
When in life did you feel your sexiest?
“When I’m on holiday. I am a summer baby and, all year long, I crave the sun on my skin. On holidays, I am glowing, I am free and I am off. That’s the best part!”
What do you wear when you want to feel sexy?
“To be honest, I wear a lot of my own stuff. That’s the best part of being a designer – you can dress yourself! I like to wear something that either looks sexy or feels sexy. Which means I can be wearing a gorgeous ensemble that may look modest but actually feels amazing on my skin and makes me feel sexy, or I’ll go for something bang-on sexy – like the tits-out cardigan! I also love a few Swarovski crystals here and there.”
Top image courtesy of Ludovic de Saint Sernin. Taken from Issue 51 of 10 Men – GENTLE, SENSUAL, FANTASY – on newsstands now.