Under this direction, Saint Laurent is poise for the next chapter. The brand’s directional spirit of breaking fashion boundaries with tailoring, androgyny, leather, and femininity remains covetable for the modern closet.
Famed ’30s choreographer believed that “motion never lies.” That adage rings true in the spring 2023 collection, which is as leonine and lithe as its models.
The Brand’s History
Yves Saint Laurent and his namesake brand forever changed the fashion industry. Saint Laurent’s impact is felt today, from his iconic Le Smoking tuxedo to introducing ready-to-wear to the couture world.
The era brought the house back to its roots with leather biker jackets and rock-inspired boots, mixing men’s and women’s Saint Laurent clothing to promote gender fluidity. Although this was a hugely successful and profitable move, it did not go over well with Saint Laurent fans. A legal battle ensued that was finally settled in 2018. It has since been replace, who brings his style to the collection.
One of the most critical aspects of Saint Laurent’s design was the blurring of gender lines. When he first debuted the pantsuit in 1966, it was groundbreaking as it allowed women to wear masculine silhouettes. The sack dress from the same collection was also a bold move, as it featured blocks of colors inspired by the artist’s work. The simple form emphasized the figure in a feminine manner.
The French couturier pushed fashion boundaries with his groundbreaking silhouettes. When he debuted his Le Smoking tuxedo suit for women in 1966, it sent shock waves through the fashion world and telegraphed sensuous femininity. He would later bare his models’ breasts in a 1968 haute couture collection, earning gasps at the bold combination of sculpture and clothing.
Saint Laurent was also drawn to contemporary art and artists, which he showcased in collections that consciously reference modern pieces. For example, this jersey shift dress is designed in homage to geometric paintings. Rather than being print, the Mondrian-inspire bands are seamed into the garment, eliminating all darts and fit seams for an audacious marriage of sculpture and high fashion.
The eponymous brand continues to push the boundaries of fashion with its trend-defying separates that stray from traditional couture aesthetics. Under this direction, the brand has been brought into the 21st century with covetable dresses and other directional pieces.
The designer once said, “Liberated women, but Saint Laurent empowered them.” The brand was a pioneer in the field of high-end ready-to-wear. Saint Laurent’s Rive Gauche line was the first luxury pret-a-porter, bringing the notion that fashion should be worn daily to women’s closets.
Master of appropriation, the couturier would travel to places as far-flung as gay counterculture and the souks of Marrakech to collect humble garments (peasant blouses) or ceremonial (African conical breastplates) and elevate them to haute couture. This style of blending masculine and feminine was the hallmark of the brand’s early days and is still a guiding principle today.
From the iconic tuxedo jacket, better known as ‘Le Smoking’ too short hemlines and sparkle, Saint Laurent is synonymous with rock’n’roll glamour. The label’s fusion of Parisian elegance with contemporary art and music remains as relevant now as it was in the groovy 60s. Whether investing in an iconic leather jacket or suit, the Sac du Jour bag, or the Loulou tote, every piece is craft with the finest materials.
YSL isn’t your typical high-end fashion brand. The company has a reputation for its uptight attitude regarding customer service. They don’t offer the “the customer is always right” philosophy nor allow for returns or promotions. This has led to the company being a target for knockoff merchandise.
YSL’s clothing remains true to the designer’s original vision despite this. The label continues to blur the lines between men’s and women’s clothing, celebrating female sexuality. By pioneering the power suit and reinterpreting safari jackets, Saint Laurent made items traditionally associated with male wardrobes accessible to the modern woman.
YSL also incorporated lighter fabrics into women’s clothing to make them more comfortable. A Yves Saint Laurent exhibition member recalls that the designer wanted to design for women who needed clothes that would work for them as they gained a voice in society and sought emancipation and worldliness. This can be seen in the 1966 Le Smoking tuxedo suit, which scream transgression but, in Saint Laurent’s fertile imagination, signified a new generation of women who were becoming more empower.
The Finishing Touches
Saint Laurent’s androgynous silhouette pushed the boundaries of gendered fashion when it debuted in 1965. Modeled with slicked-back hair and masculine suiting, the look was hail as “the look of the future” by the fashion world. It instantly became an icon for women who wanted to rebel against conservative feminine standards.
The Saint Laurent creed of subversion beneath bourgeois perfection was fully display in his costumes for Catherine Deneuve as the affluent housewife Severine Serizy leading a louche double life as a call girl in Luis Bunuel’s 1967 film Belle de Jour. Her immaculate shifts and tailored coats mask her erotically-charged fantasy in the movie, which was shot at Saint Laurent’s Paris home and feature Claude Lalanne’s floral prints.
Today, creative director Anthony Vaccarello continues to honor the trailblazing spirit of the brand. His collections celebrate the brand’s roots in menswear while embracing new trends and incorporating contemporary fabrics and silhouettes. Discover party-ready mini dresses with glitter, sequins, and black lace styles paired with oversized jackets. Meanwhile, the College bag—a coveted staple—is now offered in new fabrics and finishes like leather, making it an easy addition to your everyday wardrobe.