In the heat of the swinging ’60s, Franco-Algerian fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent challenged the intersection of art and fashion taking it further than it had ever gone before. The two spheres had developed an inseparable cultural bond throughout the course of the 20th century. From Raoul Dufy’s 5,000 artworks he made for fashion designer Paul Poiret to the Dalí, Cocteau, and Schiaparelli trio to Jeff Koons’ collaboration with Louis Vuitton, the transfer of iconic art and covetable goods is a perfect recipe that has long been practiced. The intermingling of art and fashion has allowed for a conversation of aesthetics between the two realms, whether obvious or not. In his memoir The King of Fashion (1931), Poiret wrote, “Am I a fool when I dream of putting art into my dresses, a fool when I say dressmaking is an art? For I have always loved painters, and felt on an equal footing with them. It seems to be that we practice the same craft, and that they are my fellow workers.”
As a lover of fine art, Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé developed an extensive art collection in 1950, amassing tons of pieces from all over the world from Picasso and Matisse, to Egyptian and Renaissance sculpture. “I do not collect, I pile up. These are natural impulses” Saint Laurent said in 1986. “I’m lucky, I have often found the most beautiful objects on my way, by night, in front of a gallery window. “
One artist’s work that would be especially influential for the designer was that of the Dutch abstract impressionist Piet Mondrian, who’s birthday is today. Just three years after opening his eponymous atelier, Saint Laurent’s penchant for art led him to create his Mondrian collection on August 2nd, 1965. Initiating a rich dialogue between art and fashion, the Haute Couture collection consisted of six dresses that paid homage to the Dutch painter’s linear style. Allegedly, the idea struck Saint Laurent after his mother gave him a book on Mondrian for Christmas. While the collection comprised pieces that highlighted the works of other artists, such as Serge Poliakoff and Kazimir Severinovich Malevich, the Mondrian dresses dazzled, capturing the full attention of the press.
In terms of design, the Mondrian dresses capitalized off the youth’s burgeoning interest in mod and minimalist fashions during the ’60s.”Tensions between the lines and surfaces, the magnetization between color and light, sequences between pose and movement” said Bergé. “The taste and the visual acuity that can be found in certain gestures, such as painting and sewing, the same experiment of the line, the same accuracy in the use of contrasts, materials and volumes.” The geometrical, color-blocked print on wool and jersey shift dresses seemed like a straightforward idea, but the dresses weren’t as simple as they looked. The genius of it all was actually in the architecture of the shift dress itself, color-blocking yielded to the natural lines of the body while also hiding the seams. The result was a defined silhouette with an ingeniously hidden structure dubbed “the dress of tomorrow.”
Capturing the tone of a generation, the Bauhaus-esque dress became one of his most famous and most copied designs. Soon after, Saint Laurent licensed the pattern, spawning tons of mass-manufactured imitations of the couture dress. Nevertheless, the Mondrian collection ignited Saint Laurent’s love affair of coupling art and fashion. He went on to release several more collections relating the two including the Fall/Winter 1966 Pop Art collection as a tribute to Andy Warhol, Spring/Summer 1967 Bambara collection highlighting African art, Fall/Winter 1981 referencing patterns of Henri Matisse, and finally the Spring/Summer 1988 embroidered jackets picturing Vincent Van Gogh’s iris and sunflowers.
Following the death of Saint Laurent in 2008, his art collection composed of around 1,200 pieces was put up for sale amassing nearly 375 million euros. While the well-curated collection was deemed one of the best in the world, above all else, it was exemplary of Saint Laurent’s passion for beautiful things. He absorbed the creativity that was around him, approaching it all with a sense of originality. As a great artist touches paint to canvas, Saint Laurent created a genius influenced by his inspirations, pioneering a new concept for generations of fashion to come.END
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createdAt:Tue, 03 Mar 2020 17:23:34 +0000