The two cape ensembles are a perfect example of how Yves Saint Laurent and Halston responded to the decade with similar stylistic ideas, yet stayed within the distinct parameters of their respective design vocabularies. Both capes have a hooded silhouette, a single closure at the neckline, and are constructed of beige wool. Yet the ensembles, viewed side-by-side, markedly reveal both designers’ individual aesthetic.
Halston’s use of historical elements to create new collections was sparing. Rather than re-interpret the designs of those who came before him, he made subtle allusions to those designers whose work he most admired. He was inspired by body-revealing activewear and the sinuous, bias-cut gowns of Madeleine Vionnet from the 1930s, while primary influences from the 1940s included the cashmere sweater sets of Mainbocher and the ingenious ties and closures employed by Claire McCardell.
As an advocate of minimalism throughout the 1970's, Halston rejected the ornamental and decorative elements of non-Western dress favored by most of his contemporaries. He sought more subtle and substantive ways to incorporate non-Western costume that would push the boundaries of his construction. Halston developed garments that relied on highly sophisticated and unique construction methods, akin to those employed by classic couturiers such as Madame Grès.