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Yves Saint Laurent for sale on 1stDibs
French designer Yves Saint Laurent pioneered “cross-design” in fashion, taking inspiration from street trends to modernize haute couture.
Saint Laurent was the first to launch a ready-to-wear label, YSL Rive Gauche Prêt-à-Porter. He was the first couturier to open boutiques for both men and women. Using traditional menswear fabrics and designs for women, Saint Laurent also literally cross-dressed, giving men and women alike chic pant suits, elegant tuxedo jackets and urban safari gear.
By blurring gender-specific design, Saint Laurent empowered individual style while creating a scissor-sharp fashion aesthetic of sensual ease and beauty. Many of his designs are today considered timeless classics. Saint Laurent also consistently used Black models, like Mounia, Iman and Naomi Campbell, and he drew endless inspiration from different ethnicities and cultures, in no small part because of his Algerian roots.
Born to French parents in Oran, Algeria, in 1936, Saint Laurent went to Paris at age 17 to study fashion at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Just two years later, in 1955, his remarkable sketches were shown to Christian Dior, then the world’s reigning couturier, who hired him immediately.
Surprisingly soon thereafter, Dior publicly chose Saint Laurent as his successor, which sadly proved prescient when the fashion legend died unexpectedly, in 1957. A mere slip of a youth, the 21-year-old Saint Laurent was nevertheless up to the challenge. He shook the traditional couture clientele to its core with youthful silhouettes and styles like the A-line trapeze dress that hung with seeming effortlessness from the shoulders, the antithesis of the pinched waists and molded skirts that had been all the rage after the deprivations of World War II.
After a mandated spell in the torturous French military, Saint Laurent suffered a nervous breakdown and was dismissed by Dior in 1962. Out of the ashes rose the Age of Yves. With Pierre Bergé, his then-lover who became his lifelong business partner and friend, the designer founded Yves Saint Laurent YSL to encompass prêt-à-porter, or ready-to-wear. In 1966, they opened the first YSL Rive Gauche women’s boutique in Paris, followed soon thereafter by YSL Rive Gauche for men. Saint Laurent had given birth to a global brand.
His revolutionary Mondrian mini dress from 1965 is a core element of his fashion biography. It is a prime example of how Saint Laurent, an avid art lover and collector, looked to painters, from Goya to Picasso, Ingres to Matisse, for inspiration.
With its pure lines and hues, Mondrian’s ground-breaking 1935 color-block painting Composition C transmutes beautifully into a dress that is highly valued by collectors of contemporary fashion and widely copied commercially to this day. The design is the epitome of Saint Laurent’s aesthetic, requiring a meticulous hand-piecing of each color block so that, despite the body’s curves, the visual plane is as flat as a canvas when the garment is worn. Mondrian’s purity met its match in Saint Laurent.
“I am no longer concerned with sensation and innovation, but with the perfection of my style,” Saint Laurent said four years before retiring, in 2002. After a long period of ill health, he died at his home in Paris on June 1, 2008.
Finding the Right clothing for You
From museum-worthy vintage Oscar de la Renta evening dresses and jackets to audacious T-shirts and trousers from provocative punk designer Vivienne Westwood, one thing is abundantly clear: If the clothing available on 1stDibs could talk, it would certainly make a statement.
For fashion lovers, the 1990s have become associated with styles adopted by today’s supermodels and influencers — think Galliano and Cavalli — but maybe ‘80s accessories are among your (guilty?) pleasures. Playful, boldly colored coats and outerwear from Moschino and other titans of the era can take a simpler ensemble to the next level, while chic and practical suits from the likes of Christian Dior and Chanel remain classic for haute couture advocates and beyond. By exploring the vast array of vintage collections on these pages, you can transform your closet into a retreat that is as retro as it is royal.
Velvet cocktail dresses and silk evening gowns designed by French-born American couturiere Pauline Trigère — who dressed Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor — have proven timeless since their mid-century debut, while an overcoat by Alexander McQueen is the perfect finishing touch. In fact, an emerald one stays in rotation for Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.
Those seeking modern high-fashion brands are also in luck. Turn your day-to-day into a runway with selections from Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent and Versace or complete that fresh look with stunning footwear classics from the likes of Gucci and Christian Louboutin. The future — and glamorous past — of fashion is yours for the wearing.
Build your collection of covetable and iconic vintage garments by shopping on 1stDibs. No matter where you roam, our diverse apparel and accessories will keep you covered in the hottest styles and comfiest black hoodie imaginable.