Yves Saint Laurent
Most of us wear our clothes without understanding the fact that each garment has a complex history to it. A colour is not just a colour, a jacket is not just a jacket. Our heels weren’t always this high, and women did not always wear pants. An iconic figure in fashion, Yves Saint Laurent was one of the stalwarts responsible for many of the apparel designs we now consider classics.
“Every woman in the world, sometimes without even knowing it, has something in her closet inspired by Yves Saint Laurent.”
The concept of androgynous dressing for women became popular because of him. Garments like tuxedos, jackets, and other traditionally male silhouettes were given a feminine twist at the hands of YSL. His signature style involved taking these silhouettes, and tapering them to fit a woman’s body. Women owe Yves Saint Laurent for making ‘power dressing’ about more than just boxy, masculine silhouettes.
The Le Smoking Suit
In 1966, when the iconic Le Smoking Suit was first designed, the garment upset a lot of people, with some restaurants even banning it, calling it inappropriate attire for women. Nevertheless, it caught on, and how.
Smoking suits were generally sported by powerful men. Yves Saint Laurent made this accessible to women, giving them a chance to feel sexy as well as empowered.
After being photographed by Helmut Newton for the French Vogue, the trend gained more traction. Newton gave the suit an edge, showing a model with slicked back hair smoking a cigarette in an alleyway- an image of suave sexuality that was both subtle and powerful.
Safari jackets became a huge trend in the ’60s because of YSL. A khaki or beige jacket traditionally worn for military work or safaris, the safari jacket was a basic worn by men. That is, till Yves Saint Laurent elevated it and gave it a feminine edge.
Yves Saint Laurent, the man, believed in democratising fashion, and this was just one of the ways in which he did so. Employing ethnically diverse models was another.
Whether worn with a flirty skirt or leather leggings, this bulky masculine garment was turned into a sexy boho option for women by YSL.
The Mondrian shift dress
This outfit is iconic for several reasons. First and foremost, it brought modern art onto the runway, as the design on these minimalist dresses were a representation of Mondrian’s paintings.
Fashion often borrows from art, but this was a famously unique, first-of-its-kind collection because it honoured modernist art. Moreover, it inspired replicas everywhere.
The outfit we associate with the ‘80s — bolero jackets — were pioneered by Yves Saint Laurent.
Exaggerated and flamboyant in terms of its silhouette, the bolero jacket was given a feminine slenderness through tasteful colours and exquisite fabrics by YSL.
The iconic glasses and turtleneck look was part of a larger, rather notorious trend of pseudo-intellectuality, called the beatnik movement. Author Joyce Johnson described this beatnik look thus:
“‘Beat Generation’ sold books, sold black turtleneck sweaters and bongos, berets and dark glasses, sold a way of life that seemed like dangerous fun.”
Yves Saint Laurent not only wore and designed looks inspired by this trend, but his ‘cool’ lifestyle, involving excessive alcohol use and cocaine abuse, perhaps in hindsight, signified the fact that the rules for geniuses living in the fast lane are not different.
The knee-high boot is everywhere in winter, redone by every fashion house and high street brand. This classic was a YSL signature as well, and very much a part of his beatnik aesthetic. Yves Saint Laurent’s legacy continues to live both under his label, now renamed to Saint Laurent Paris, as well as through reinterpretations by upcoming designers, with his timeless style and aesthetic still distinguishable and elegant.
The See-Through Blouse
Characteristic of Saint Laurent’s titillating, insouciant approach to fashion design, he debuted risqué transparent fabrics in his 1966 collection. In keeping with the new mood of sexual freedom and playfulness of the 60s, the sheer organza dress revealed the model’s breasts.
Rebelling in a different way in the era of the miniskirt, Saint Laurent’s models would always go braless under sheer organza blouses and couture gowns with a feathered trim. And much like today’s campaign, the decision was less about pleasing the onlooker, and more about asserting equality between the sexes.
Yves Saint Laurent gained a huge success since his very early years that lasted for a lifetime. For more than 40 years in a row genius Haute Couture designer and the respective brand creator had been setting the fashion guidelines for the whole world as his amazing fashion creations were the main trends for womens- and menswear and his fragrances were the main beauty wish for millions of people.
The beauty division of the brand that started off with the fragrances has now become one of the most recognized and purchased beauty and makeup brands in the world. Currently the YSL Beaute is a substantial part of the L’Oreal Group Luxe.
The first fragrance from Yves Saint Laurent was a widely known “Y”, created in 1964, followed by the scandalous fragrance ‘Por Homme’ with the photo of the nude maestro himself. The most famous and prominent fragrance of the brand remains the gorgeous Opium, that has found it’s reincarnation in the Black Opium — an amazing modern adaptation. The sales of the YSL fragrances account for the majority of income from the beauty division of the brand as many of the YSL fragrances have become iconic over time.
The makeup line of the brand is quite popular and successful among beauty lovers all over the world. The best-selling products are the marvelous Touch Eclat concealer, Effet Faux Cils Mascara, Rouge Pur Couture and Rouge Volupte lipsticks, glossy stains, eyeshadow palettes and nail polishes — to name a few. Brand was also able to gain the loyalty of its devotees in the skin care department as well offering the most cutting edge technologies in terms of preserving the youth of the skin and capturing light from within.
“He blends the letterforms with exceptional harmony, mixing sans and serifs in a subtle way, while successfully mixing roman and italic forms at the same time. The challenge lies in how Cassandre dared to break the unwritten rule of not mixing — in the same word — two typeface features that are, in principle, incompatible.”