This Fender Stratocaster is the American guitar maker’s first fashion collaboration, and it has chosen to go straight to the top. The limited-edition Fender x Saint Laurent Stratocaster pairs one of the world’s most famous fashion houses with the guitar that started it all.
Fender and Saint Laurent Stratocaster
Initiated by Saint Laurent’s creative director Anthony Vaccarello and developed by Saint Laurent Rive Droite and Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, this bespoke collection starts with the instrument itself. Apart from the immutable partnership between fashion and music, the chief connection between the brands is their age; Yves Saint Laurent founded his fashion house in 1962, just as Leo Fender’s eponymous guitar-making business (founded in 1946) was getting into its swing.
The Stratocaster itself was first seen in 1954, following on from the Telecaster (1950) and before the Jazzmaster (1958) and Jaguar (1962). In 2014, a 1957 Stratocaster was acquired by the Museum of Modern Art’s for its permanent collection. Well over 12 million Strats have been sold to date, and the 2000s even saw a massive revival of interest in the electric guitar amongst players young and old; in 2020, Fender had its greatest ever annual sales (in 2021, we interviewed Justin Norvell, executive VP of Fender Products, about the future of the Fender guitar). Often imitated but rarely bettered, Fender also continues to make special editions – usually in collaboration with players.
The Saint Laurent Stratocaster is built at Fender’s Custom Shop in California in an edition of ten, with the body, headstock and back of neck all finished in gloss black urethane. There’s also a discreet Saint Laurent logo by the tremolo, with three lipstick-style pick-up covers. All the hardware, from the pick-up switch to the volume and tone pots, is also black.
Buyers also get a Saint Laurent-badged deluxe hardshell case, along with a strap and an all-important certificate of authenticity. Pairing nicely with the Stratocaster is another limited edition, the '65 Deluxe Reverb Fender x Saint Laurent Amplifier. A timeless guitar amp built to the same specifications as Fender’s 1960s originals, the ’65 Deluxe Reverb was first reissued in 1993 and has remained in production ever since.
Finally, there’s also a set of six celluloid guitar picks with Saint Laurent branding and a special presentation tin – perhaps for those who can’t quite run to the guitar or amp? So will these Strats ever see action? As assured collector’s items, it’s more likely these supremely playable instruments will adorn walls, rather than stages.
Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.
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