Why I Love YSL

Most Friday nights here at the Jones household aren’t too exciting.  My husband and I like to hang out at home, drink some beer or wine, watch a movie or catch up on our DVR, and relax.  Sometimes we’re on the same page with our movie selection and sometimes we’re not.  Last night we were not.  I’ll admit, the majority of our Netflix queue is filled with my movie selections.  In fact, I should call it what it is, MY Netflix queue.  When we’re not on the same page, hubby usually ends up on the computer, catching up on work, or watching TV in the other room.  So, earlier in the week when my selection arrived, “Yves Saint Laurent: His Life and Times,” I knew I would be watching this one alone.  This film is a biographical documentary on the life of YSL, shown through interviews with his mother, his partner, those who worked with him, and the man himself.

I’ve talked about it before, but fashion has always been a big part of my life, starting in childhood.  You could usually find me in a dress, regardless of what anyone else was wearing.  And I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to wear high heels.  My mom had a pair of sky-high brown pumps with an ankle strap that I loved to play around in.  I was in 5th grade and there was something happening where we got to come to school dressed in a costume from the gold rush era.  I, of course, wanted to go to school dressed as a saloon girl.  I wore a full floral skirt, white eyelet, fluffy blouse, and I wanted those heels to complete my outfit.  There was no way my mom was letting me, an 11-year-old, out of the house in those shoes, and she let me know it.

So, I did what any fashion forward 5th grader would do, and I smuggled them to school in my knapsack.  They were of course, too big, too high and I could barely walk in them.  Lesson learned?  No.  Even though my shoe of choice these days is a flat, I still like to break out a high heel now and again, even though I know they will be excruciatingly painful.  And my mom found out about my antics.  She was pretty involved with the school, so the fact that someone mentioned the ridiculous pair of shoes I wore to school was no surprise.  I’m not sure why my 11-year-old self didn’t realize that then.  What price fashion?

Watching the documentary, I don’t think I realized how influential Saint-Laurent’s designs are on today’s fashion.  He got his start working for the great Christian Dior, and at the age of 21, after the sudden death of Dior, Saint-Laurent was put in charge of the fashion house.  He would design 10 collections there before going out on his own, creating the YSL brand.  His “Trapeze” collection, which was his first for the House of Dior, was relevant just a few years ago.  Saint-Laurent was the first to design a female tuxedo in 1966.  The female tuxedo is still seen on red carpets and runways today.  His famous safari jacket was launched in 1968.  Versions of the safari jacket are also still around today.  And he was the first to design a woman’s  trouser suit in 1969.

Also having a comeback is the bow tie blouse.  Another of YSL’s signature looks.  His 1976 Russian Collection reminds me of today’s peasant/Boho style.  There are so many trends from that collection that are currently happening.  Longer, fuller skirts worn with boots, bow tie blouses, and long-sleeved blouses were all trends last fall and will be into the next one.  In his 1990 collection he used color blocking with red and fuchsia.  This was also a hot trend as seen on Emma Stone and SJP last fall.

One dress in particular from this collection, shown in the movie, was a black, silk evening gown with a large fuchsia bow in the back.  It was very reminiscent of my prom dress worn in the spring of that year.  Maybe YSL got his inspiration from my self-designed prom dress?  Hardly, but I was obviously inspired by him, even though I may not have known it at the time.  That shoulder strap on your purse?  Saint-Laurent put a shoulder strap on his bags in the late 60s, something no one at the time understood.

I enjoyed watching “Yves Saint Laurent: His Life and Times,” even if it was a little slow in some parts.  I liked the interviews with Saint-Laurent’s mother; she was very proud of her son and recognized his talent, as most did, early in his life.  A revolutionary he was.  I will go so far as to say YSL is one of my all-time favorite designers, alongside Halston and Tom Ford.  Who is your favorite?

My fashion advice is to embrace trends, but keep them age appropriate.  Although, if you’re following trends set by a fashion designer like YSL, it’s hard to mess it up.

For those lucky enough to be in Denver (I may need to make a trip home just for this) there is an exhibit happening at the Denver Art Museum, YVES SAINT LAURENT: THE RETROSPECTIVE.  Denver is the only stop on the exhibit’s U.S. tour.  It runs from March 25 – July 8.

For more information:  Denver Art Museum retrospective shows Yves Saint Laurent’s passion for the female form – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/entertainment/ci_20183409/all-8200-about-yves#ixzz1q6RwMjBk

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