Hello all you connoisseurs of couture! In honor of the Denver Art Museum‘s upcoming Yves Saint Laurent exhibition, I would like to examine the man, myth and legend, so to speak, in a series of blog posts. A young prodigy, pioneering genius, and troubled soul, Yves Saint Laurent will always be one of the “greats” of fashion. Let’s explore…
Young Yves Saint Laurent, below, was only 19 when he was hired by Christian Dior. After having won awards in various design competitions in 1953 and ’54 his drawings were seen by Michel de Brunhoff, editor in chief of Vogue, Paris. Amazed at the young man’s talent, de Brunhoff introduced Yves to Christian Dior who hired him on the spot.
Saint Laurent’s first dress for Dior, in 1956 (yes dears, he was only 20 years old) was photographed by none other than Richard Avedon and worn by the famous model Dovima. The photograph in its own right is now quite famous and is often referred to as “Dovima and the Elephants.” In this early work, one can see Saint Laurent’s obsession with the body and how it moves. At Dior, the wasp-waist silhouette was giving way to a softer, less constricted look for woman as can plainly be seen here.
The less constricted style expanded, literally, into his “Trapeze” dress designs in 1958. Now the head of the House of Dior due to Christian Dior’s death, Saint Laurent gained instant fame in his own right from this collection. Note how the bodice gently expands outwards as the garment progresses down towards the knee. This achieves the difficult task of being both comfortable and sensual at the same time because the hint of the body’s underlying shape is there, but leaves the rest to the observer’s imagination. Observe also how both the day dress and the cocktail dress achieve a different feel through fabric and embellishment even though the basic cut of each dress is the same – genius!
In 1959 Saint Laurent presented his last collection for Dior that shocked the elegant world of cotoure with its references to the decidedly non-glamorous world of hard-eged street life. His “Chicago” jacket, even though made of crocodile and edged in mink was a direct reference to the toughs seen along urban streets. I don;t know about you, my dears, but this is certainly not too “tough” for me! To die for!
Well darlings, I really must fly. Stay tuned, however, for another installment of “All About Yves” coming soon!