In fashion, credits are everything.
This week at Cannes, French fashion house Saint Laurent studied 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.
Since 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 was credited as an associate producer, while creative director Anthony Vaccarello served as the costume designer for the 1910 picture.
There’s one more: the collaboration serves as the official debut of Saint Laurent Prods., an expansion that boasts the house as the first brand to fully invest in film production. According to official information from Saint Laurent, the division was born from the vision of Vaccarello, who has long had his eyes on the art of cinema.
Saint Laurent’s latest move may not come as a surprise to Cannes audiences following a previous collaboration with provocateur Gaspar Noé on his 2019 festival entry Lux Aterna. That movie began as a Saint Laurent-backed fashion commercial that turned 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 homosexual twist. It begins with Pascal’s Silva riding across the desert on horseback to visit an old friend Jake, who now works as the country’s sheriff. They haven’t seen each other in 25 years after a lustful two-month escapade in Mexico. Upon their reunion, they share a home-cooked meal followed by a nightly romp. The next morning, ulterior motives are revealed (as well as Pascal’s naked ass).
Linking it to Almodovar on his latest, Vaccarello and his Saint Laurent team have clearly put a lot of thought into all the sartorial details. According to the production notes, they took inspiration from early to mid-20th century Western wardrobes, and as expected, all looks are impeccably tailored and add richness to the storytelling.
Pascal’s green jacket is a replica of the jacket worn by James Stewart in Anthony Mann’s 1952 film Bend of the river. In another scene, Pascal’s character’s son is dressed in a look that can be traced back to Burt Lancaster’s style in Robert Aldrich’s 1954 film. Vera Cruz. Hawke’s county sheriff is modeled after looks worn by the late legendary star Kirk Douglas in films such as 1957’s Gunfight at the OK Corral and that of 1959 Last train from Gun Hill.
“I’ve been rewatching a lot of westerns so as not to fall into anachronisms and the truth is that the male wardrobe has changed little,” Almodovar said in a statement. Vaccarello added: “I’ve 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 (making a film) with people who care deeply about him”, a compliment directly related to clothing choices. “Pedro cares deeply 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 I’ve ever worked with in my life have an almost obsessive relationship with details.”
The same goes for designers. Saint Laurent paid special attention to Wednesday’s launch, making sure to put an exclamation mark on every inch of the Palais red carpet.
After the Strange way of life team went to the Debussy for their screening, they went to the big premiere of Monster early in the evening. Almodóvar, Hawke, Steane, Condessa, Fernandez and Rios all decked out in Saint Laurent, as did Vaccarello who also designed looks worn by bold names such as 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 made a posh mark at Cannes, they’re soon faced with the inevitable Hollywood question: What will they ever do for a sequel?