Art & Transformation- Ode to Yves Saint Laurent

“I participated in the transformation of my era. I did it with clothes, which is surely less important than music, architecture, painting .. but whatever it’s worth I did it.”

– Yves Saint Laurent

On the first day of June 2008 Yves Henri Donat Dave Mathieu-Saint-Laurent, better known as the iconic couture fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, passed from this world. Yves, an out Frenchman born in Algeria in 1936 left the Christian Dior House of Fashion at the tender age of 27 to start his own company with partner Pierre Berger. More recently Berger started Andante, a classical music label and website.

Over his many years Yves Saint Laurent popularized various looks such as leopard prints, knee high boots, tight pants (see our coincidentally recent article about the current popularity of this look in indie music circles), as well as Le Smoking Suit for women- a bold move for the time. In 1968 Saint Laurent said “My small job as a couturier is to make clothes that reflect our times. I’m convinced women want to wear pants.”

In an attempt to bring high fashion access to the masses he was the first to start a “ready to wear” offshoot brand Rive Gauche. Saint Laurent was also the first designer to bring catwalk models of all skin colors in to the European fashion world. In 1971, to the shock of many, Yves appeared naked in an ad for YSL, his men’s cologne.

Famed photographer Helmut Newtons depiction of the “androgynous” Le Smoking Suit

The bridge between the fashion and music world is a short one as both continuously play off each other in the ever tumbling and ethereal world of arts and culture.

Musicians Ani Difranco & Christina Aguilera in their suits

Yves Saint Laurent pushed cultural boundaries through the last 7 decades that oddly are still considered edgy today. May we all pause and ask ourselves to have such vision and bravery in our own lives, art, and work

-MJ Hecox



The New York Times, Yves Saint Laurent, Fashion Icon, Dies at 71, June 1 2008

Associated Press, Some fashion wisdom from Yves Saint Laurent, June 1 2008

The New York Times, Front Row; From Couture to Culture, April 16 2002

Wikipedia, Yves Saint Laurent (designer), June 2 2008

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