While most fashion media will be reporting the details of Yves Saint Laurent’s legendary career at the sad news of his passing on Sunday, June 1, 2008, those of us at Label Networks would also like to acknowledge his work and pay respect to the man that changed fashion, creating new subcultures in his wake.
In the early part of his career, Yves Saint Laurent was known as the man who first put women in pants, causing a huge uproar in top restaurants and hotels in London, Paris, and New York when fashionable women wearing his collection had a hard time getting in. Mr. Saint Laurent also created the ready-to-wear label, Rive Gauche (or Left Bank) which put Paris on the map as the fashion capital.
In 1957, he was named the head of the House of Dior after Christian Dior died suddenly, which was considered unimaginable in the couture industry to name someone so young (he only 21 years-old) as the Head of House. He launched with the trapeze dress, a narrow shouldered collection with a wide swinging skirt which was a massive relief to women sick of traditional constricting clothing and girdles.
Other hallmarks included the blue peacoat over white pants look in the ‘60’s; reinventing the smoker jacket and tux (for both sexes); the high turtleneck paired with a black leather jacket during the Beatnik era; using the safari jacket on women as a fashion piece; see-through blouses; among other enduring statements. In our eyes, he was probably the first to recognize what is today di rigueur in street fashion: the freedom of fashion as “post-gender.” Aspects of Saint Laurent can clearly be seen within the preferred styles of this new generation whereby the crossover is becoming faster and less gender-specific.
In 1999, Mr. Saint Laurent sold his label to Gucci Group for $70 million in cash and royalties. All his life, he had suffered from bouts of depression and fragile health.
The fashion world benefited greatly from Yves Saint Laurent’s vision and will be greatly missed among many people within many genres of the industry.