YSL + Halston: Historicism


Yves Saint Laurent Dress (Image via  FIT )

Yves Saint Laurent Dress (Image via FIT)

Historical pastiche was a significant part of Saint Laurent's design strategy throughout his career. During the 1970's, he drew on the trend for vintage dressing that was emerging on the streets of Paris to create politically charged homages to 1940's fashions. His pieces displayed his indebtedness to the legacies of Christian Dior and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. Dior’s ultra-femininity, romanticism, and interest in volume re-emerge in Saint Laurent’s homages to the Belle Époque, complete with full skirts and gigot sleeves. Likewise, Chanel’s interest in streamlined, androgynous, and modern garments can be seen in Saint Laurent’s adaptations of styles from the interwar 1920s and 1930s.

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. Like his predecessors, Halston rejected standard fit techniques, such as darts and waistbands; wherever possible, he removed linings and inner structures, as well as buttons and notions. He also painstakingly modified a small number of basic items that were worked and reworked until their proportions and fabrications became perfect. Among Halston's hallmark 1970's designs were his reinterpretations of streamlined and sinuous bias-cut gowns and separates.

-The Museum at FIT

  1. Halston Grey fur coat, fox fur and velvet, 1981, New York
  2. Halston Purple full length dress, rayon jersey, circa 1975, New York
  3. Halston Blue evening dress, silk jersey, 1972, New York
  4. Halston White evening dress, sequined polyester, 1974, New York
  1. Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Color-blocked evening ensemble, velveteen, 1970, France
  2. Yves Saint Laurent Black evening ensemble, silk, velvet, and gold lamé, 1978, Paris
  3. Yves Saint Laurent Black, fuchsia, and teal evening dress (possible from the "Ballets Russes" collection), silk satin, velvet, and taffeta, 1976, Paris
  4. Yves Saint Laurent Purple and burgundy evening dress, silk taffeta, circa 1980, Paris
  5. Yves Saint Laurent Green evening dress, silk taffeta, 1972, Paris
  1. Halston Purple evening ensemble, cashmere, circa 1973, New York
  2. Halston Blue full length evening dress, sequined jersey, 1972, New York
  3. Halston Blue evening jumpsuit and jacket, beaded silk organza, circa 1979, NY
  4. Halston Off-white pajama set, silk crepe de chine, circa 1976, New York
  5. Halston White dress, crinkled cotton, 1975-1976, New York
  6. Halston Navy ensemble, silk jersey, circa 1972, New York
  7. Halston Black dress, cashmere, circa 1980, New York
  1. Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Green "chubby" style coat, marabou feathers, 1971, France, Polka-dot shirt dress, printed rayon crepe, circa 1971, France
  2. Yves Saint Laurent Multi-color ensemble, wool, silk, and fur, 1972, Paris
  3. Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Camel sweater, wool and fur, 1973, France, Herringbone skirt, wool, 1969, France
  4. Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Rooster print shirt dress, rayon crepe, circa 1971, FR
  5. Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Green "chubby" style coat, marabou feathers, 1971, France, Polka-dot shirt dress, printed rayon crepe, circa 1971, France