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Yves Saint Laurent by Stefano Pilati black and gold evening jacket, circa 2008

$1,344.07

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Yves Saint Laurent by Stefano Pilati black evening jacket with gold abstract print and extra long waist belt. Circa 2008

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    Ships From: London, United Kingdom
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About Yves Saint Laurent (Manufacturer)

French fashion 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, he empowered individual style while creating a scissor-sharp fashion aesthetic of sensual ease and beauty. Many of his designs are today considered timeless classics.


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.


Other highly coveted collectibles poured from his imagination, such as the black crocodile motorcycle jacket, an early intimation of Saint Laurent’s passion for subverting — or is it obverting? — street style, which was then dominated by the anti-bourgeois beatniks of Paris’s Rive Gauche.


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 plain is as flat as a canvas when the garment is worn. Mondrian’s purity met its match in Saint Laurent. (One of the pattern cutters, according to Saint Laurent expert and fashion journalist Laurence Benaïm, was another renowned perfectionist: a young Azzadine Alaia!)


In Yves Saint Laurent: The Impossible Collection (Assouline, 2020), the Mondrian dress is shown worn on the cover of Paris Vogue, as well as on British Sudanese model Alek Wek in a photographic trifold by Christoph Sillem from 1998. Saint Laurent 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.


At his best, like any artist, Saint Laurent used his nervous energy to feed his fertile imagination with all that inspired him. Creation gave him momentary peace, his confidence unassailable. “Nowhere is Saint Laurent more excessive than in his talent,” Cathy Horyn penetratingly noted in the New York Times in 2000.


And no historical haute couture collection is more excessive than Saint Laurent’s Spring/Summer 1988 line. Entirely hand embroidered by Lesage on 273 yards of ribbon, it took 670 hours, 250,000 sequins in 22 colors and 250,000 pearls to make. Among the most expensive couture garments ever, the “Sunflowers” version sold for $450,000 in 2019 at Christie’s in Paris.


“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. He was 71.


Browse an extraordinary collection of Yves Saint Laurent evening dresses, shirts and more today on 1stDibs.

About the Seller
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