Yves Saint Laurent was unique among his contemporaries for the way he incorporated everything from his love of the arts to his fondness for the styles of street culture into his fashions. Whether it was a wool jersey dress that became a canvas for colorful geometric abstractions or a line of clothes that took its cue from leather-jacket clad bohemians on Paris’s Left Bank, Saint Laurent was always looking outside the fashion world for his inspiration.
Saint Laurent began his career at a very early age, taking a job as a design assistant at Dior in 1954 when he was still a teenager. After Dior’s death in 1957, Saint Laurent, who was only 21, was named Dior’s chief designer. This was a huge responsibility for the young designer and French fashion in general—at the time, Dior accounted for almost 50 percent of France’s fashion exports. A lot would be riding on his first outing.
Happily, Saint Laurent’s spring 1958 collection for Dior was a huge success, the centerpiece of which was a line of trapeze dresses, which were narrow at the shoulders and wide at the hem. Saint Laurent had saved Dior and the French economy in one blow, but his fall 1958 collection was a critical and commercial disaster, as was the Left Bank-inspired Beat Look that followed—the world was not quite ready for all those black leather jackets and turtleneck sweaters.
In 1960 Saint Laurent was drafted into the French army, but he only served 20 days—he was hospitalized from the hazing inflicted on him by his fellow conscripts. It was in the hospital that he learned that he’d been fired from Dior. This sent Saint Laurent over the edge, which led to a stay in a mental hospital where he was regularly sedated with drugs and given electroshock therapy.
For many people that might have been the end of the story, but Saint Laurent climbed out of this hole and by 1962 had founded his own fashion house with lifelong business partner, Pierre Bergé.
One of the first influences Saint Laurent drew upon for his fashions was visual art. Early in the 1960s, André Courrèges had already created Piet Mondrian-like go-go boots, but Saint Laurent was the first to grandly appropriate the great mid-century artist’s work as bold super graphics on straight-cut dresses.
In 1966, the year after the Mondrian dresses, Saint Laurent introduced “le smoking,” which was a black tuxedo jacket that was cut to flatter the female form. Some of these jacket...
Until then, the only reliable, can’t-miss item in a woman’s wardrobe was her little black dress by Chanel or others. With the tuxedo jacket or suit, Saint Laurent gave women a brand new item for their fashion arsenals. Catherine Deneuve, Lisa Minnelli, and Lauren Bacall were instant fans—Bianca Jagger wore a white Saint Laurent suit at her wedding to Mick.
In 1966, Saint Laurent became the first major designer to get ready-to-wear right with Rive Gauche—boutiques of the same name soon followed, and the brand was eventually sold to Gucci in 1999. He was also the first major fashion designer to hire black fashion models to wear his clothes for his highly prestigious runway shows.
Embroidered African-inspired garments followed in 1967, as did more street-inspired fashions in 1968—most of these riffs on the leather-fringed attire of student protesters. Along the way, Saint Laurent added safari looks (his short-sleeve shirts had breast as well as hip pockets) and collections based on the Ballet Russes and European peasant costumes.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Fashion Columbia Study Collection
1960s Fashion and Textiles
Vintage Fashion Guild
The Antique Corset Gallery
Clubs & Associations
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Yves Saint Laurent
Source: Google News
With No 'Normal Heart,' Is 'Saint Laurent' Alone In Its Quest For Cannes ...Indie Wire (blog), April 17th
With the lineup announced this morning, only one LGBT-centric film, Bertrand Bonello's Yves Saint Laurent biopic "Saint Laurent" (starring Gaspard Ulliel, Louis Garrel and Lea Seydoux, and not to be confused with Jalil Lespert's “Yves Saint Laurent...Read more
'Yves Saint Laurent' trailer: 'Genius comes at a price' -- VIDEOEntertainment Weekly, April 17th
At times it's also free-spirited and dark, offering a glimpse at the fashion icon's highs and lows. Directed by Jalil Lespert, Yves Saint Laurent stars Pierre Niney as the revolutionary designer whose fabulous, jet-set life is marred by nervous...Read more
Sneak A Peek At The Yves Saint Laurent Biopic Right HereRefinery29, April 16th
We don't just throw words like "legendary" around, but the title certainly applies when it comes to designers like Yves Saint Laurent. The late fashion designer took ready-to-wear to the next level and redefined femininity with Le Smoking. And, should...Read more
Should Yves Saint Laurent be using 'seemingly malnourished' models? Over ...The Independent, April 9th
Shannon Bradley-Colleary, a blogger who writes about body image issues, has started an E-petition to convince Yves Saint Laurent's CEO Francesca Bellettini to stop using “seemingly malnourished” models in the brand's advertisements. The petition has so ...Read more
Fashion Icon Yves Saint Laurent Celebrated on FilmBloomberg, March 28th
March 28 (Bloomberg) -- Fabrice Paget, Founder The Luxury Brand Agency, talks with Anna Edwards about two new biopics on the life and legacy of French Fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent on Bloomberg Television's “Countdown.” (Source: Bloomberg)...Read more
Yves Saint Laurent: Lots of style and a scarcity of substanceThe Guardian, March 27th
Young pied-noir Yves Saint Laurent (Pierre Niney) moves to Paris to work for couturier Christian Dior. He hangs out with model Victoire Doutreleau (Charlotte le Bon) and designer Karl Lagerfeld (Nikolai Kinski). Victoire tries it on with Yves...Read more
4 Things to Know About the Yves Saint Laurent BiopicNew York Magazine, March 24th
If you've dipped into the European fashion press over the last three months, you've probably seen a whole lot of hype about Yves Saint Laurent, a French biopic that was released in the U.K. on Friday. Since it isn't out in the States until June, the...Read more
Yves Saint Laurent review – humourless, but good-looking fashion biopicThe Guardian, March 22nd
Nevertheless, Yves Saint Laurent can be tender and insightful when focusing on the relationship between the designer and his lover and business partner Pierre Bergé. In the title role, Pierre Niney, a dead ringer in horn-rims, is persuasively...Read more