^^ This is the trapeze dress! The first design from Yves Saint Laurent.
^^This is MY FAVORITE piece from Saint Laurent. I literally stood in front of it for 15 minutes, just staring! If I could buy it, I would!
^^ This was my favorite dress that Saint Laurent designed. It has a velvet dress with a satin pink roaching in the front and this gorgeous big bow in the back. Last Saturday, I had the privilege of exploring the Seattle Art Museum exhibit based on the iconic fashion designer – Yves Saint Laurent. It was THE best exhibit I’ve been to at the SAM. It helps that I’m into fashion and all, but the way they set up the exhibit was intriguing and kept my attention. I captured a few photos and had to share my experience with you all. And if you haven’t seen it, I got you covered because I will walk you through his fashion journey. Unfortunately, it ended last Sunday, so I can’t tell you to go, but I can share the YSL book that they sold – check it out here.
‘I am not interested in beauty. I am only interested in shock and seduction.’ -Yves Saint Laurent
As I read about Yves Saint Laurent, I was so inspired by his personality. He wasn’t just in the market to enhance the fashion world, he was in the market to shock and seduce. This has stuck with me the past few days and as I walked through the exhibit, I could see this throughout his art.
In 1955, Saint Laurent was introduced to Dior, who fell in love with his sketches and hired him on the spot to be his assistant in the House of Dior. Could you imagine? Working for The Dior! Mind-blown.
His first design was the trapeze dress (see above). The trapeze line was launched in the 1960’s and was intended to liberate women’s bodies and showcase their waist. Always pushing the limits of society. As we walked into the exhibit, it was the first dress you saw.
‘My weapon is the perspective in which I see my society.’ – Yves Saint Laurent
On each wall of the exhibit, were rows of sketches (see captured above) starting from 1962 through to the year 2000. It’s amazing how the designs changed over the years and the evolution of the sketches advanced.
In 1966, Saint Laurent designed the first pant suit for women. At the time, women were not allowed to wear pants – only dresses! As much as that sounds amazing, it is definitely not functional and I’m so inspired by YSL, who challenged this societal standard. Once women began to wear pant suits, they had to check their pants in with their coat, so they essentially looked like they were wearing a mini-skirt.
What I love about him is he pushed provocation. He pushed it into even more complex and subtly paradoxical territories through impossible pairings and unnatural associations. He said, ‘What I want to do is shock people, force them to think.’ Gosh, I feel like we need this right now. One provocative design that left the Americans with a bad taste was the ‘see through dress’ of 1968. It was the first dress where a woman’s breasts were exposed in public. He didn’t just design that dress to shock and awe, but he did it because he demanded perfection in all of his designs and this piece had that.
‘I don’t like too much fashion, I like clothes.’ – Yves Saint Lauren
His style represented the perfect alchemy of form and color. The choice of fabric, the color, the cut, and the assembly were treated with equal importance. And he didn’t have the tailoring skills of Coco Chanel or Madeleine Vionnet, but he had impeccable drawing skills. His sketches perfectly captured his vision, his colors, his cut, and his fabric in one place.
‘I would have liked to be so many different things.’ – Yves Saint Laurent
In an interview, he said, I would have liked to be a writer. ‘At one time, I wrote a lot. And then I stopped because it was impossible to do both, to write and to move forward in this frightening profession that paralyzes me for most of the year. My mind is cluttered with dresses.’ He wrote his first poems at the age of 12 and his first drawings were book illustrations. Along with the desire to write, he developed a passion for theater and film. Over the course of forty years, all of Saint Laurent’s dreams – everything Saint Laurent would have liked to be – did, in fact, come true, either indirectly, through his diverse sources of inspiration, or directly, through his contributions to the theater, ballet, and film.
Overall, the exhibit was exquisite and the best form of art I’ve ever been honored to see. If you are interested in learning more about YSL, please order the book I’ve linked above. It does a great job of walking you through his fashion journey.
‘I am no longer concerned with sensation and innovation, but with the perfection of my style.’ – Yves Saint Laurent