Yves Saint Laurent was a French fashion designer who rose to prominence in the 1960s to 1970s. He was a pioneer in many ways, from his innovative designs, to his attitude towards women’s fashion, and his influence on the fashion industry that can still be felt today. Born in Oran, Algeria in 1936, Saint Laurent showed an early interest in fashion and even began designing his first clothing as a teenager. After winning a competition for young fashion designers, he moved to Paris in 1953 to study at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, where his teachers were quickly impressed with his raw talent and creativity.
In 1957, at the age of just 21, Saint Laurent was hired by Christian Dior as his assistant. When Dior passed away a few years later, Saint Laurent was named the head of the fashion house at the age of 21. This was an unbelievable achievement for someone so young, and it showed the world that Saint Laurent was destined for greatness. After being named the head of the fashion house, Saint Laurent quickly established himself as a force to be reckoned with in the fashion world. He introduced the concept of ready-to-wear clothing, which was a revolutionary idea at the time where very fussy and ornate outfits were the norm. He also embraced a more relaxed and comfortable style, which was a departure from the stiff and formal fashion of the past.
One of Saint Laurent’s most famous creations was the “Le Smoking” tuxedo suit for women, which he introduced in 1966. This was a groundbreaking design that challenged traditional notions of femininity and helped to popularize the androgynous look that became a hallmark of the 1970s and has since gained more and more popularity as time brings forth more progressive individuals.
Another one of his most famous works was the “Piet Mondrian” dress, which featured a simple silhouette with bold blocks of primary colors and thick black lines, which mirrored Dutch artist Piet Mondrian’s distinctive style. The Piet Mondrian dress was significant because it bridged the gap between art and fashion, and it represented the beginning of a new direction in fashion design. The dress became an instant sensation and an art-fashion cultural icon. It was worn by a number of celebrities, most famously actress Elizabeth Taylor.
Saint Laurent was also known for his use of color and print, and he often drew inspiration from art and culture. He was particularly influenced by the vibrant colors and patterns of North Africa, which he incorporated into many of his designs.
Despite his many successes, Saint Laurent struggled with mental health issues throughout his life. He battled depression and drug addiction, and his struggles with anxiety often made it difficult for him to appear in public. Nevertheless, Saint Laurent’s influence on the fashion industry was immense. He helped to create a new aesthetic that emphasized comfort, simplicity, and elegance. He challenged traditional gender roles and opened up new worlds of possibility for women’s fashion. Yves Saint Laurent passed away in 2008, but his impact on the fashion world lives on. He remains one of the most influential and important designers of the 20th century, and his contributions to the world of fashion will continue to be recognized for many years to come.
I found it very interesting how he combined art and fashion. I wasn’t aware of the Mondrian inspired dress that you showcased. Are there any other instances of him taking inspiration from famous artists?
I found this post super interesting because I really did know much of the background or history behind YSL, I was just aware of their current presence in the design industry. I was curious if the “Fashion House” you mentioned was a studio/company or more of an informal grouping of designers?