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The early years

On 1st August 1936, Yves Mathieu Saint Laurent was born in Oran, Algeria, where his father worked in insurance. When he was a child, they moved to France.

He was a weak, spindly boy and suffered at the hands of his schoolmates, so he found solace at home becoming absorbed in drawing and painting. He designed dresses for his mother and two sisters, while still a teenager.

In 1953, when he was 17, Yves arrived in Paris, and entered the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture School. He entered a competition organised by the International Wool Secretariat, and won first prize with an asymmetrically draped, one-sleeved cocktail dress. A picture of his design is shown on the right. Coincidentally, another prize winner in this same competition was Karl Lagerfeld in the coat category.

The chief judge of this competition was Michel de Brunhoff, director of VOGUE. When he saw Yves St. Laurent's portfolio, he was surprised to see that this unknown young man was thinking along the same lines as the new A-line collection about to be presented by his friend Christian Dior.

Brunhoff spoke to Dior and said "you must take him on". Dior found him so gifted that he took him on as his assistant. It was the first time that Christian Dior had anyone assisting him in the initial design stage.

One of his most well-known garments is the pea jacket, which was based on a sailor's garment worn for hundreds of years.

At this time, Yves designed "bubble dresses" for Dior, gathered into a band at the knees and other dresses. Saint Laurent was original and imaginative in his designs. He impressed Christian Dior immensely and in October 1957 Dior said to his staff " there are 3O designs in my latest collection which are based on Yves's work, he is an exceptional talent, I want him to be recognized. His staff said that YSL was still very young and that he should wait a little longer. Dior said he would bring him out at the next collection. But it was not to be, he died just a few days later.

In 1957 The "dauphin" or "crown prince" became head of the largest Maison de Couture in Paris at the young age of 21.

The Trapeze Line

In 1958 Yves presented his first collection called the Trapeze line. The triangular trapeze shape was the backbone of his collection, and was considered the most important and fully formulated line in Paris. It flared gently from narrow shoulders to a shorter wider hemline just covering the knees. By autumn, the rest of Paris had adopted this length.

The newspapers had banner headlines that day


The young designer appeared on the balcony after the show, to receive the cheers of the crowds

YSL presented 6 collections for Dior, although by then the staff at Dior were beginning to get a little upset at what they felt was rather a too flamboyant style for sedate Dior. The clientele however, adored his designs. One person in particular, the Duchess of Windsor bought many of his creations. In 1958, when she was 62, she purchased one of his black rose-covered tulle evening dresses which she afterwards donated to the V&A London permanent costume collection.

The Winter 1959 collection was rather badly received as he raised the skirt to the knees, belted every waist, and pulled the skirt into a tight knee-band. He said "when a new line is greeted with indignation, it is a healthy sign."

The 1960 Spring/Summer collection was BEATNIK, all motorcycle jackets made of alligator skin, mink coats with ribbed sweater sleeves and turtlenecks under finely cut suits. It was highly praised by the public, as one of the most beautiful and youthful collections the house had ever produced. But it caused an uproar with Dior staff and particularly with Marcel Boussac, who controlled the DIOR company. It was felt that YSL had misjudged the staid clientele of Dior.

In 196O YSL left on compulsory military service but suffered a nervous collapse and was discharged. He returned to find that Dior had installed Marc Bohan as the head designer. He was most upset about this and in 1961 he sued for compensation and won 48,OOO pounds. When he received this money, he decided to set up his own salon with his good friend Pierre Berge, who is still with him today. Berge became his alter-ego and business manager, enabling Yves to concentrate on designing beautiful clothes without having to worry about the money side of his affairs.

In 1962 the house of St. Laurent opened on the rue Spontini In a mansion formerly owned by the painter Forain, and Yves started designing and selling his creations exactly the way he wanted to. He chose not to produce a new silhouette every six months, but derived his collections from a treasure trove of sources like theatre, painting, history, etc. Life Magazine calls his first collection "the best suits since Chanel."

1962 His Fall/Winter collection included the Norman Smock, a garment that had its debut more than l,000 years ago, and which has been made by him in countless wearable versions over the years, as a peasant overshirt, a Russian tunic, Chinese coat, artist's jacket, or even the jacket for a crisply tailored gabardine pantsuit.

1964 Fluid, no hard lines, no sharp stops, or starts, enchanting tunics, long discreet appealing suits, langorous evening dresses, a return to gracious, beautiful, refined clothes. In this year, he also introduced his first fragrance "Y" for women, which was followed by many others.

1965 YSL presents dresses based on the paintings of Mondrian, geometrically patterned.

1966 YSL dabbled in Surrealism. He designed several striking dresses, decoration of which suggested provocation and sexual innuendo. This year also saw the first appearance of the SMOKING (tuxedo) which became a modern classic.

1966 YSL opened the first Rive Gauche shop in Paris, a tiny shop on the rue de Tournon He was the first Couturier to open a Ready-to-Wear boutique.

1967 The famous velvet knickerbocker suit appeared and his famous "Africa" collection, adorned with shells and beads.

1968 The safari jacket made it's first appearance in his "Saharienne" collection of African safari inspired garments, as well as see-through dresses, and the shirt-dress.

1969 The first London Rive Gauche shop was opened. The opulence and extravagance of the Rive Gauche clothes of Yves Saint Laurent have pulled in the clients, who have stayed with him ever since.

The clothes which YSL designed were exquisitely correct for the flamboyant 60's and he was one of the first to use clothes to shock, such as his transparent dress of 1966.

Catherine Deneuve, the exquisite French actress shown here on the right, is YSL's Muse. She is someone who has worn his clothes since he began, and in 1966 he even designed the costumes worn in her most famous film "Belle de Jour". She even today appears in his advertisements for perfume and beauty products.

The Rive Gauche garments included lavish ornate embroidered lace, beaded tunics, satin skirts, above the knee shorts or knickers, wide legged trousers or bias-ruffled overdresses topping trimmed or fringed skirts. Peasant blouses first appeared in bright prints and gypsy skirts. Patterned lame, velvet, tassel trimmings, jet , fur, fringes, rustling taffeta, moire and many other luxurious materials were used by him.

1969 First mans suit for women, which was to be his leitmotif explicitly evoking memories of Marlene Dietrich.

1970 The denim skirt and film costumes for "The Siren of Mississipi".

1971 YSL first Pret-a-Porter collection. His collections feature a 40's look, and the Blazer. The smocking coat is shown as well as what YSL calls the Proust dresses, with big taffeta skirts. In this year, YSL also shocked the world by posing nude to advertise his first man's fragrance "Pour Homme."

1972 Andy Warhol, the Pop artist paints the famous series of multiple- image portraits of Yves St. Laurent.

1974 YSL Couture house is moved to a new building in Paris, 5 avenue Marceau.

1974 YSL's collection featured new youthful look, complete with frizzy hair, clunky wedges, micro-skirts and puffed sleeves.

1975 Espagnole collection

1976 Ballet Russes collection

1977 Moroccan inspired collection in Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter featured a Chinese theme collection.

1978 Gypsy collection

1978 During this year, YSL fell in love with a lab sample of a intense pink lipstick that the technicians had discarded. He insisted on marketing it, and it has been the hottest selling lipstick since then, YSL No 19.

In his 1980-81 collection, Yves St. Laurent paid homage to the great poet and artist Jean Cocteau. One of his garments in this collection, was a pink jacket with a line from a Jean Cocteau poem embroidered on the back. It is shown here on the right.

1981 Marguerite Yourcenar, the first woman to enter the French Academy, is dressed by YSL.

1981-82 His smoking jacket/suit was revived. YSL has often been given credit for rendering the pantsuit presentable. His versions, with jackets evolving from his "smoking" jacket and safari looks combine sharp precise tailoring, with cummerbunds, ruffled shirts, see-through shirts, bow ties and scarves.

1983 The Metropolitan Museum of New York, held an Exhibition displaying 25 years of YSL designs which was a great success.

1988 YSL brought out his collection paying homage to Picassao and Braque, the masters of Cubism and Abstract painting

1989 YSL is the first designer to go public with his house, by putting its shares on the stock exchange.

1990 His homage to Hollywood collection.

1993 Merger-cum-takeover of the St. Laurent group by Elf-Sonofi Co. YSL and Pierre Berger continuing artistic control till 2001.

1998 One hour before the football World Cup in Paris, 300 models present YSL creations before 30,000 spectators and TV cameras from 176 countries.

1999 In March, the YSL Room at the London National Gallery was inaugurated. In May, he places the Pyramidion on the Luxur Obelisk at the Place de la Concorde, in Paris. In the latter part of the year, the International Festival of Fashion was held when 40 years of YSL designs were displayed.

2000 Yves St. Laurent handed over the design of his Rive Gauche Ready-to-Wear line to ALBER ELBAZ, the Israeli born designer.

However, after only one year, Elbaz was replaced as chief designer for Rive Gauche ready-to-wear, by Tom Ford.


One of Yves St. Laurent's greatest talents is colour - from his Mondrian-inspired dresses to his Ballet Russes collections in the 70's. Some say he is the supreme fashion colourist of this century, unrivalled by any other designer. His colour schemes even clash elegantly.

He repeats what Chanel said, "Fashions change, Style remains." His dream is to give women the foundation of a classic wardrobe, which, by escaping trends, gives them more confidence in themselves.

His Smoking (tuxedo) jacket was a shock when it was introduced in 1966. A woman was banned in the 60's from dining at the Plaza hotel in New York, because she was wearing a YSL pantsuit. His pants and jackets became a statement for a new generation of women, and he said "I want to shock people, force them to think."

The secret to his style (or styles because there are many) is that he creates clothes that make a woman look great and feel the height of elegance.

(dresses based on the paintings of Mondrian)
23 January 2008 @ 05:35 pm
с большим опозданием - вот фотографии с Frieze Art Fair 2007

13 March 2007 @ 08:39 pm
Good art maketh glad the heart of man
05 March 2007 @ 05:21 pm
“For Agamben, fingerprinting is not just a matter of civil liberties: it is symptomatic of an alarming shift in political geography. We have moved from Athens to Auschwitz: the West's political model is now the concentration camp rather than the city state; we are no longer citizens but detainees, distinguishable from the inmates of Guantanamo not by any difference in legal status, but only by the fact that we have not yet had the misfortune to be incarcerated—or unexpectedly executed by a missile from an unmanned aircraft.…But although his recent examples come from the war on terror, the political development they represent is not, according to Agamben, peculiar to the United States under the Bush presidency. It is part of a wider range in governance in which the rule of law is routinely displaced by the state of exception, or emergency, and people are increasingly subject to extra-judicial state violence.”—Malcolm Bull, London Review of Books

05 March 2007 @ 04:42 pm
Interview with Giorgio Agamben – Life, A Work of Art Without an Author: The State of Exception, the Administration of Disorder and Private Life

27 February 2007 @ 10:36 am

работа, которая удивительно похожа на предыдущий мой пост)