Bonnie J Brown
The Trapeze Line, the bubble dress, the smoking tuxedo jacket, the pea coat, the woman’s pant suitâ€¦ While the list could go on indefinitely, this is just an abbreviated inventory of fashion fads turned closet classics created by one man, Yves Saint Laurent. Known for adapting street fashions into runway creations, Laurent has been influencing the fashion world since the late 1950’s.
At the tender age of 17, Laurent won a contest for his design of an A-symmetrical draped dress which afforded him the recognition of becoming Christian Dior’s very own personal assistant, the first and only person to assist Dior in the early stages of his designs. Assisting Dior, Laurent was able to further develop his craft and ability to not only dress the female form, but flatter it as well. A skill Laurent seemed to have complete control of was the ability to construct perfectly tailored garments for women, yet drape them in a way to make them look graceful.
After Dior’s death, not more then four years later, Laurent became the lead designer for the largest couture house in France. While his designs for Dior, at the time, and then later on for his own ready-to-wear line were considered flamboyant and even quite shocking, women of all ages flocked to wear his clothing. By designing a tuxedo for women he was forcing people to think outside the box which allowed women the opportunity to eventually wear pants as an everyday option. In turn, the modern woman was born. Laurent can credit his successes to making women look and feel elegant in their everyday life.
While Laurent’s designs leading up to his retirement in 2002 were thought of by some as repetitive of past designs, he had been known to quote Coco Chanel in saying: â€œFashions change, style remains.â€ Laurent gave women the chance to build wardrobes of fashionably classic pieces. Even though the fashion house of YSL is closed, the line continues to produce under Laurent’s name through the guiding hand of designer Stefano Pilati. But more than that, designers today still are reinventing some, if not most, of Laurent’s most popular designs and women are still wearing them.
1. 1966-67 Women’s Tuxedo nytimes.com
2. Laurent’s winning A-symmetrical dress nytimes.com
3. Trapeze Collection 1958 nytimes.com
4. Laurent and friends in his designs 1969 style.com
5. Laurent Pea Coat Spring 2002 style.com