Gregory Siff practices, as it’s called in the self-help world, manifestation. After bumping into Anthony Vaccarello, Saint Laurent’s creative director, at an Art Basel party, the L.A.-based multimedia artist sent Vaccarello a piece called “High Fashion Selfie” – setting in motion Vaccarello’s first artist collaboration since taking the helm of the iconic house in 2016.
After that chance encounter, Vaccarello featured Siff in his fall 2017 ready-to-wear collection, namely in the $1,350 men’s “Handsome” sweater, for which an alternate title might be “High Fashion Selfie.” The piece features an abstracted face drawn in silver mohair with the word “Handsome” scrawled underneath, which Siff calls a kind of self-portrait. “It’s like a self-portrait [mixed with] James Dean or the idea the male ideal. It’s an avatar of what a handsome man is,” he says.
And like any good enigmatic self-portrait, the sweater contains multitudes — thanks to its two-in-one, reversible design. “There’s metallic silver piping [on the inside] so when you reverse it, it looks like chainmail,” says Siff. “It looks like in Romeo & Juliet when Leonardo DiCaprio was wearing the silver armor when he’s going to kiss Claire Danes.”
The sweater’s jagged hardware might not scream romance to most, but the fact that Siff associates it with Romeo & Juliet suggests that he, as did Yves Saint Laurent, recognizes romance in the unlikeliest of places – a tendency Siff witnessed firsthand at a Saint Laurent show during Paris Fashion Week. “There was a shirt in the show that had snakes on it and the word ‘love.’ Apparently, it was based on one of Yves Saint Laurent’s love cards, which he made to face his fears and almost embrace his fear of snakes.”
That vulnerability also seems to fuel Siff’s approach to both art and fashion. “I don’t want you to just buy [the] sweater,” he says. “I want it to be an armor to you and I want you to feel great about it. There’s a certain kind of protective feeling and it lightens up your insides even though you’re putting it on your outside.”
And Siff’s self-examination through fashion isn’t done yet – in fact, it’s only going deeper. His next few collaborations with Vaccarello, set to debut this fall, will, Siff says, channel his inner Juliet: “It’s actually not out yet so I don’t think I can say [what it is], but I can say it’s [about] the feminine side. [We’re] working with the two dualities of the male and the female.” When it comes to unisex fashion, there’s no place to experiment than Saint Laurent.
Main image: Courtesy of Mona Loring (MLC)