Saint Laurent Pays Tribute to the Memphis Group in a Striking New Collection
As the iconic Italian design group celebrates its 40th anniversary, Saint Laurent’s Anthony Vaccarello brings the radical designs back to life
Once described as “a shotgun wedding between Bauhaus and Fisher-Price,” Italy’s iconic Memphis Group has continued to influence designers around the the world ever since it was founded in the early 1980s. The latest homage comes from Anthony Vaccarello, Saint Laurent’s Belgian creative director, who has just launched a capsule collection for the brand’s Rive Droit line, a creative and cultural outpost for special collaborations with a focus on high design.
Vaccarello, who is deeply passionate about design, teamed up with Memphis Milano to create the Memphis Milano x Anthony Vaccerello Yves Saint Laurent Rive Droite collection, which comprises both apparel and homeware. The result is a masterful blend of the brand’s celebrated Parisian-chic streetwear and the unmistakable graphic style of Memphis.
It was in 1981 during Milan’s furniture fair Salone del Mobile that the trailblazing architect and designer Ettore Sottsass launched the first collection of 55 products under the Memphis Milano name. Characterized by a kitsch yet elegant mashup of geometric shapes, pastel and neon hues, terrazzo, and monochrome stripes and wiggly lines, the pieces were a radical departure from the sleek modernism popular at the time and instantly caused a stir. With a philosophy that design ought to be a means of communication and not an elitist art form, the Milan-based company Memphis Milano still produces the group’s designs from 1981 to 1988 in unlimited numbers.
The Saint Laurent capsule collection includes hoodies, multicolor sneakers, and garments in what Saint Laurent dubs Memphis Silk, in a vibrant hot pink colorway. The homeware items range from dazzling glass vases in an explosion of color to textile accessories, as well as rare books and posters documenting the trajectory of the movement. “These unique pieces combine classic models from Saint Laurent with the electric spirit of Memphis,” the brand said in a statement.
To celebrate Memphis Milano’s 40th anniversary, a special exhibition is also being hosted through June 23 at the Paris and Los Angeles store locations of Saint Laurent Rive Droite. Visitors will get the chance to not only take home a piece or two from the new collaboration but also get a sense of the wider context as original 1980s pieces such as the Tawaraya Ring seating unit by Masanori Umeda, the Carlton room divider by Ettore Sottsass, and Riviera chairs created by Michele De Lucchi transform the spaces.
See pieces from the collaboration below.