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Image: Alex Webb, Magnum Photos for Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.

The connection between fashion and photography is one of the most documented. Clothes and images have been a conduit for self-expression and each aims to tell a story. For Saint Laurent’s seventh instalment of its SELF project, creative director Anthony Vaccarello invited a group of high-profile artists to lens the brand’s personality and spirit through their own imagery styles. 

Simultaneously, Saint Laurent has organised exhibitions to showcase the artists’ works across six major cities like Paris, London, New York, Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai. The artists involved in the SELF 07 project are Harry Gruyeart, Olivia Arther, Alex Webb, along with Magnum guest photographers Takashi Homma, Daesung Lee and Birdhead. With the aim to intangibly connect the world, the common thread that unites these different photos is the reverence for human intimacy, the natural world and the urban landscape.

Ahead are the six selected works from the talented photographers and what inspired them.

Harry Gruyeart

Image: Harry Gruyaert, Magnum Photos for Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.

“I have always been fascinated by airports. They are places that concentrate everything that usually catches my eye as a photographer: the interplay of light, transparency and reflections, the effects of superimpositions that create a loss of reference points and give this very strong impression of being between two worlds. And then, there are the signs — arrows, numbers, letters — that mark out the frame. I have always liked the vocabulary of signage. When I was invited by Anthony Vaccarello to participate in SELF 07 for Saint Laurent, I immediately thought it would be interesting to shoot in this setting and to associate these images with some of the ones I had done before and which are gathered in the book Last Call.”

Olivia Arther

Image: Olivia Arthur, Magnum Photos for Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.

““So not so” is a series that explores the human relationship with our bodies, our own physicality and the importance of touch and connection. Working with Anthony Vaccarello’s creations for Saint Laurent SELF 07, with movements, interactions, and play, I looked to show the way we touch, connect, and relate to each other. An exploration of the physical world in natural and unnatural forms is also key for me in showing the limits of our physicality.

Our virtual worlds have grown to become a genuine reality and as technology creeps we need to remind ourselves of the hard feeling of a hand on a wall or the clatter of pebbles falling over each other. Incorporating elements of make-believe and play, the real sometimes becomes surreal. And as bodies and heads blend in and out of the spaces around them, it is also intended to serve as a reminder of both our strength and fragility.”

Alex Webb

Image: Alex Webb, Magnum Photos for Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.

“City streets are alive with vibrant colour, bold geometry, layers of light and movement, and rich diversity. They are the dynamic meeting places where the many worlds of the city cross paths, often in surprising and surreal ways. As a street photographer, I’ve long been drawn to the brilliant colour, searing light, and intensity of life that I first encountered in the streets of Latin America and the Caribbean.

So when I was asked by Anthony Vaccarello to photograph Los Angeles in the spirit of Saint Laurent for SELF 07, I immediately thought of three culturally-rich downtown neighbourhoods — the Pinata District, the Flower District, and the Fashion District — whose deep shadows, brightly painted walls, and vibrant streets are reminiscent of Mexico, where I’ve often wandered. This exhibition brings together my new work from the streets of Los Angeles in conversation with my past work from Latin America and the Caribbean.”

Takashi Homma

Image: Takashi Homma, Magnum Photos guest photographer for Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.

“The City and Fashion. We live in a huge city called Tokyo. We, dressed in clothes, live and act in the environment of Tokyo. Our actions are in fact constrained and guided by the pressure of the city of Tokyo. I used the camera obscura technique to capture and exhibit the Tokyo environment that surrounds us. The city and fashion are always in a one-to-one relationship. I was pleased to have the opportunity to participate in Saint Laurent’s SELF 07 curated by Anthony Vaccarello.”

Daesung Lee

Image: Daesung Lee, Magnum Photos guest photographer for Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello.

“Spring 2020 was surreal but real. The whole world stopped. No one could easily describe such a feeling in words. Ironically, nature revived and came back to us once we stopped being indoors. Nature gave us back all the forgotten senses. The sky was so blue, more than ever, birds were singing so loudly out of my apartment window and the leaves of the trees in the streets were greener than ever. It was such a surreal experience. Since then, I no longer see the world in the same way. In the meantime, I often had to escape to an imaginary nature in my mind to stand the uncertain future. It was a strange spring. I attempted to visualise that strange experience during lockdown.

An imaginary nature, that you can only see in your inner self, that you can only feel in your own senses. We all lived in our own universe during that time. The SELF project was a unique, exciting, and challenging opportunity to explore and express my inner self in visuality. I hope you can also find yourself in these images. I especially thank Saint Laurent and Anthony Vaccarello, artistic director, and curator of the SELF 07 project for his constant support to artistic freedom of expression and creativity.”


Image: Birdhead, Magnum Photos guest photographer for Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello

“This collaboration is based on the format of photographic matrix — the signature style in “Birdhead World”. Inspired by the harmonic and symbiosis relationship between species that exists in nature, the work exhibits the tangible connection between photographs. The overall contour lines up the cityscape, clothing, and body with natural elements like clouds, trees, and stones. This outline combined with the structure of different light and shade blocks, creates a smooth and free sense of integration, just like the gesture of the cursive script in Chinese calligraphy. Each photograph consists of the work that is the original photograph taken in analog, without any cropping or reframing.

Additionally, through the SELF 07 project curated by Anthony Vaccarello, Birdhead adopted inverted negative photographic prints in their work for the first time. The characteristics of Saint Laurent’s SELF project provide a high degree of freedom, allowing artists to transcend boundaries and explore the possible new resonance of art and fashion in each special era from different perspectives.”

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