Drawing inspiration from Martha Graham’s ‘Lamentation,’ Anthony Vaccarello’s Summer 2023 collection explored the influence of the hood on visual culture

Martha Graham’s Lamentation premiered in New York City, at Maxine Elliot’s Theater, back in 1930. The solo performance was carried out almost entirely from a seated position, with its dancer swathed in a tube of violet fabric. It was a visualization of the essence of grief—the tension in the elastic jersey represented a struggle, however futile, to break free from the emotion’s grasp. “[Lamentation] had a profound impact on visual culture and fashion,” reads a statement from Saint Laurent, “an influence that rippled far beyond the world of dance and across time.”

Backstage images courtesy of Saint Laurent.

In designing the French house’s Summer 2023 collection, Anthony Vaccarello revisited Graham’s work—he’d discovered the choreographer in the ’90s, when Madonna was singing her praises. The construction of the production’s costume brought to mind a quintessential Saint Laurent motif: the ‘capuche’ dress, where an extension of fabric is artistically twisted to form a hood on an otherwise classic silhouette. It’s appeared in some form or another since the late-’60s, appearing most recently in Saint Laurent’s Fall/Winter 2002 Haute Couture show.

Rather than suggesting restriction, however, the garments in Vaccarello’s Paris Fashion Week presentation facilitated ease of movement. Models glided along a paved garden runway, constructed specifically for the event, against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. They wore square-shouldered leather coats and jackets, sheer, mock turtleneck gowns, pajama-inspired satin sets. The capuche hood appeared time and time again, on columnar dresses and waist-tied shirts, in black, white, brown, lime green, dark gray, and in Graham’s particular purple.

The presentation gave testament to the power of archival inspiration—reimagining not only of a past designer’s creations, but also of the influences that informed them. Be it dance, streetwear, workwear, or Medieval Europe, the hood’s impacts are far-reaching. Its continual reappearance in the spheres of art and fashion is proof of its versatility, in imbuing clothing with a particular energy: from grief, to power, to nonchalance, to anonymity, to elegance.