Tag Archives: YSL

Designer Inspiration: Yves Saint-Laurent

‘In 1985, Caroline Rennolds Milbank wrote, “The most consistently celebrated and influential designer of the past twenty-five years, Yves Saint Laurent can be credited with both spurring the couture’s rise from its 1960s ashes and with finally rendering ready-to-wear reputable.”‘ (source)

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YSL is credited with introducing the tuxedo for women, calling it ‘Le Smoking’. I was actually tempted to make a version of the original 60s tuxedo for the Sewcialite Soiree (for which I made a mustard corduroy suit instead) but decided if I got hot and took the jacket off, I would look like a waiter!

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I personally prefer the version above over the version below, but both must have been equally ground-breaking in a time when a lot of women probably didn’t even wear trousers, let alone a suit.

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‘At the age of 17, Saint Laurent moved to Paris and enrolled at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, where his designs quickly gained notice. Michel De Brunhoff, the editor of French Vogue, introduced Saint Laurent to designer Christian Dior, a giant in the fashion world. “Dior fascinated me,” Saint Laurent later recalled. “I couldn’t speak in front of him. He taught me the basis of my art. Whatever was to happen next, I never forgot the years I spent at his side.”‘ (source)

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‘Although Dior recognised his talent immediately, Saint Laurent spent his first year at the House of Dior on mundane tasks, such as decorating the studio and designing accessories. Eventually, however, he was allowed to submit sketches for the couture collection; with every passing season, more of his sketches were accepted by Dior. In August 1957, Dior met with Saint Laurent’s mother to tell her that he had chosen Saint Laurent to succeed him as designer.’ (source)

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‘In 1957, Saint Laurent found himself at age 21 the head designer of the House of Dior. His spring 1958 collection almost certainly saved the enterprise from financial ruin; the straight line of his creations, a softer version of Dior’s New Look, catapulted him to international stardom with what would later be known as the “trapeze dress”. Others included in the collection were dresses with a narrow shoulder and flared gently at the bottom. At this time, he shortened his surname to Saint Laurent because the international press found his hyphenated triple name difficult to spell’ (source)

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Saint Laurent was fired by the House of Dior in 1960 after less than stellar follow up collections but sued them for breach of contract and won. He then set up his eponymous line with his partner Pierre Berge.

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One of Saint-Laurent’s most iconic designs must be the Mondrian dress (which had a resurgence a couple of years ago thanks to the Sewing Bee). It’s so completely 60s! I do love it. Maybe I’ll make a version one day?!

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‘In the 1960s and 1970s, the firm popularised fashion trends such as the beatnik look; safari jackets for men and women; tight trousers; tall, thigh-high boots; and arguably the most famous classic tuxedo suit for women in 1966, Le Smoking. The 1965 Mondrian collection was particularly renowned. Saint Laurent also started mainstreaming the idea of wearing silhouettes from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.[citation needed] Yves Saint Laurent brought in new changes to the fashion industry in the 60s and the 70s. The French designer opened his Pret-a-Porter House YSL Rive Gauche in 1967 where he was starting to shift his focus from Haute Couture to Ready-to-wear. One of the purpose was to provide a wider range of fashionable style being available to choose from in the market as they were affordable and cheaper.’ (source)

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And, of course, like most big name designers of the 60s and 70s, Yves Saint-Laurent released sewing patterns!

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I love the yellow version (unsurprisingly)

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I think pattern envelope designers (from the big 4) could learn something from times gone by!

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I love this coat!

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I kind of love this dress, but I’m not sure how well it would work on anyone with boobs! I guess that’s true of a lot of 60s fashion though.

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What’s your favourite YSL look?

Fashion History – The Early 1960s

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In the 1960s, for the first time, fashion looked to London instead of Paris. Think of Carnaby Street and the Kings Road – there were loads of little boutiques which got new styles in every week, with young people being the main customers, of course. The 1960s saw fashion become an integral part of young people’s identities for the first time, and they had the disposable income to buy all the new fashions – and labels like ‘casual’ and ‘formal’ dressing no longer mattered.

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The early 60s were all about simple lines and clean shapes. The shift dress was king, moving away from the extreme waist definition of the 50s, started by The New Look. Mary Quant was an early queen of the shift, but it was widely adopted, with design details like large pockets and cut outs adding design details which were missing from the shape of the dress.

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Colouring was another way to add design details to the simple shift.

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It was in the 60s that trousers first took off like never before – they had obviously been around in the 20s (wide, pyjama-style) and women like Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn wore suits in the 30s and 40s – but the 60s was where they became more main-stream than they’d ever been before. They especially took off when in 1963 Cathy McGowan wore a pair to host the music tv show Ready Steady Go.

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I was slightly struggling to find good photos for this post – there are so many amazing clothes from the 60s and great designers who started in that era that I couldn’t work out how to narrow down my search, so I decided to look up Twiggy, whose style I LOVE! I definitely kinda want these massive earrings! Are they discoballs or baubles!?

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I think this dress could be easily recreated with the Megan Dress from Love At First Stitch. The one above could maybe be made with the Megan too, if I could work out how to do the ties on the front.

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Technology advances meant fabrics became more easy to wear and care for, as polyester was blended with other fibres. This led to the more avant-garde designers using slightly less conventional materials, like paper, plastic and metal. PVC was also invented in the 60s and was available in black and white. Designers also used traditional evening fabrics, such as velvet, lace, and brocade, for daywear.

This is Audrey Hepburn in a Paco Rabanne dress made of I think giant sequins, from the film Two For The Road.

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Andres Courreges was also known for his extreme cut outs and space-age-y use to unconventional fabrics and materials. The 2 white ones are clearly not wearable really, but I still love them! Digging these giant sleeves too!

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In 1960 24-year-old Yves Saint Laurent showed his final collection for Christian Dior, then set off on his own to create a cooler Beat collection including leather suits and knitted caps. With this he signalled the beginning of the end for French Haute Couture. In 1962 he launched his ready to wear label, Rive Gauche.

1960 Yves Saint Laurent, 24 years old, showed final collection for Christian Dior, sent out a cool Beat collection of black leather suits and knitted caps to an astonished and bewildered audience, sounded death knell of haute couture. 1962 invented his ready-to-wear label Rive Gauche. I love the 2 dresses on the left!

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In 1966 YSL launched the first classic tuxedo suit for women, ‘Le Smoking’, which paved the way for androgynous fashion and 80s power suits.

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Catherine Deneuve wore one too.

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This YSL suit is AMAZING! I definitely would love to copy it, even though I may not have anywhere to wear it! Maybe I should make it and then just wear it on a random Wednesday or something.

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Laurent took inspiration from pop art in his designs too, most famously his Mondrian dresses.

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I love the Mondrian dresses, and also the one with the lips below, left.

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Although the ‘youthquake’ meant young people were moving away from more tailored, formal styles, I still love 60s suits, like these 2.

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This evening gown is fairly fab!

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Of course, I couldn’t round up fashion from the early 60s without looking at the amazing sewing patterns available at the time. All the major designers, whose names we still know now, released patterns:

Nina Ricci

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Lanvin

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Yves Saint Laurent

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and Pierre Cardin.

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Don’t forget, of course, Chester Weinberg! I would like to add to my vintage pattern collection with some designer ones.

The big pattern companies were no different, so here’s a little selection of my favourites.

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Do you like the 60s? Who’s your favourite designer/ style icon?

 

 

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