Yves Saint Laurent

(b. 1936)

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Christian Dior (1905—1957) French couturier


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(1936– )

French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent is closely associated with the ‘Swinging Sixties’, an outlook embodied in his ‘see through’ blouses of 1968 and his incorporation of ‘street style’ into fashion goods. He studied at the school of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture and, after winning first prize in an International Wool Secretariat Competition for a cocktail dress in 1954, went to work for Dior on the recommendation of the editor of French Vogue. He became head designer at Dior in 1957, producing six collections before he was replaced in 1960, when he undertook military service. He started his own couture house two years later, going on to launch Y, his first perfume for women (1964), the Rive Gauche boutiques for women (1966), and menswear (1974). He also brought his design expertise to bear on other fields, styling the actress Catherine Deneuve for the Luis Bunuel film Belle du jour, a fashion‐film star relationship that gained recognition for Saint Laurent with an ‘Oscar’ award from Harper's Bazaar. He established a reputation for his ready‐to‐wear designs over succeeding decades but stopped putting on major fashion shows for his ready‐to‐wear collections in 1996, the same year in which he marked a first amongst couturiers by transmitting his couture show live on the internet. His prominent place in French national culture was underlined by being chosen to stage a large‐scale fashion entertainment in the Stade du France on the occasion of the World Cup in 1998. Furthermore, not only did he and his fashion output receive considerable coverage in the fashion press, but his work was also seen internationally in many exhibitions. These included the Yves Saint Laurent: 25 Years of Design exhibition (1983) of his major designs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, a retrospective exhibition of his work from 1958 to 1985 in Beijing (1985), with further retrospectives at the Musée des Arts de la Mode in Paris (1986, also shown in Moscow), Tokyo (1990), and elsewhere. Throughout his career Saint Laurent has received many awards, including the International Award from the Council of the Fashion Designers of America (1982), receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the same body in 1999. In 1985 he was awarded the Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur by the president of France, François Mitterand.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art — Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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