Monday, June 02, 2008
Tribute: Yves Saint Laurent 1936 - 2008
One of the masters of Haute Couture, a legend of fashion, an icon of the 20th century is not amongst us anymore: Yves Saint Laurent died today, at the age of 71.
It is very difficult to write about legends... He redefined fashion with his unique vision for women. He broke barriers with his avant-guard collections, starting with his work at Dior, then with his own couture house. He was the first to go into prêt-a-porter, the first to open a boutique (on Rive Gauche), the first to dress women in le smoking, the first to show a woman's breasts nude, the first to promote a men's designer perfume (posing nude for the Vogue advertisement himself), the first to use all types of women as his muses (from artist to whore to respectable lady to modern woman to 40's femme fatale to peasant). He dressed women in art, transforming paintings of famous artists into couture dresses.
And what to say about his bold use of colour? His combinations were always dramatic, putting green against blue, fuchsia against red and purple, brown with black etc. His inspirations were endless, from art to Byzantium to French chanteuses, to dancers to marines... but never forgetting that there would be a woman wearing his clothes, a woman's body to drape and show off or cover.
His silhouette was always either very austere or very fluid - no middle of the road solutions here. His forties inspired suits, the strong shoulder line - even when it was un-fashionable to wear shoulder pads - were in stark contrast (but immensely complimented by) the fluid evening dresses in chiffon or satin that transformed women into exotic wild flowers.
His muses were amazing women with strong personalities and independent spirits: Catherine Deneuve, Loulou De La Falaise, Katoucha, Iman, Betty Catroux, Mounia. Their style influenced him and they returned the adoration by wearing his clothes everywhere. His retirement in 2002 made the world headlines. His colleagues and peers gathered at the final show to pay respect as they had never done before (we all know that the fashion world is notorious for backstabbing).
He will always be an inspiration. Adieu Monsieur Saint Laurent.