YSL + Halston: Menswear


Yves Saint Laurent Suit (Image via  FIT )

Yves Saint Laurent Suit (Image via FIT)

Both Yves Saint Laurent and Halston drew on menswear when creating clothing for women. Saint Laurent caused a sensation when he debuted his woman’s Le Smoking tuxedo in 1966. During the following years, he experimented in his womenswear with a range of masculine archetypes that led to his “safari” and “gangster” looks. His exploration of menswear elements reached its zenith during the 1970s, when pants became a staple of the fashionable woman’s wardrobe. Of course, Saint Laurent’s interest in menswear went beyond merely putting women in pants—he admired a male approach to dressing. Out of this grew may of his wardrobe “essentials,” including jumpsuits and blouson jackets, as well as a wide range of coordinated separates that formed the backbone of his ready-to-wear line, Rive Gauche.

Likewise, menswear informed many of Halston's best-known designs which also reflected Halston's own style. However, unlike Saint Laurent, who crafted literal versions of menswear for women, Halston perfected a spare but luxe choice of unisex elements that became the foundation of his daytime designs for women. These pieces were nearly identical to the daily uniform that Halston himself wore: a cashmere turtleneck, a matching cardigan or loosely cut jacket, and a pair of trim trousers. His most famous garment, the shirtwaist dress, was a subtle adaptation of a man’s shirt. Made of Ultrasuede, a machine washable fabric, the shirtwaist dress was subtle and sexy, with buttons that commenced at the breastbone rather than the neckline. It became a fashion staple.

-The Museum at FIT

  1. Halston Black ensemble, leather, circa 1971, New York
  2. Halston Brown ensemble, fur-trimmed suede, 1970-1971, New York
  3. Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Brown suit, wool gabardine, circa 1970, France
  4. Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Gold suit, leather, circa 1988, France
  5. Halston Pants, wool jersey, circa 1975, New York, Off-white shirt, silk, circa 1970, New York
  6. Elsa Peretti for Halston Halter bra, silver mesh, 1975, New York
  1. Yves Saint Laurent Off-white pantsuit, pinstripe wool, circa 1979, Paris
  2. Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Navy "gangster" style pantsuit, pinstripe wool, 1967, France, Navy polka-dot shirt, cotton sateen, circa 1970, France
  3. Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Black "le smoking" evening suit, wool, satin, and silk crepe, circa 1982, France
  4. Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Khaki "safari" style jacket, cotton, 1968, France, Bronze belt, metal and glass, circa 1975, France
  1. Halston Brown pantsuit, quilted Ultrasuede coat, circa 1978, New York
  2. Halston Tan shirt dress, Ultrasuede, 1972, New York
  3. Halston Purple coat, Ultrasuede, circa 1974, New York, Purple hat, Ultrasuede, cirtca 1973, New York
  4. Halston Gingham shirt dress, printed cotton, circa 1970, New York
  1. Halston Red "jogging" ensemble, wool, 1980, New York
  2. Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Grey jumpsuit, wool, 1975, France
  3. Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Red pants, wool garbadine, circa 1974, France, Striped silk shirt, cotton sateen, circa 1971, France, Camel sweater, wool, 1971, France
  4. Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Burgundy pantsuit, wool gabardine, circa 1970, France, Striped shirt, silk, circa 1971, France