Friday, June 13, 2008

Tribute to a legend

Yves Saint Lauren passed away at 71 on June 1st. Many are mourning his death as the significant moment of the passing of old school fashion.

If you're young, you'll likely think of YSL as nothing more than a brand name with gorgeous bags, shoes, and clothes. The YSL brand you know is splattered with Uptown and Downtown bags, as well as the YSL Muse. But in fact, what you are thinking of is YSL's ready-to-wear label, Rive Gauche, which has been sold to Gucci in 1999 and designed by Tom Ford (until 2004) and Stefano Pilati (presently).

YSL Tribute pumps, mary janes, and sandals were the rage ever since last year, as if the brand YSL founded was hailing tribute to its original founder and designer.

Tribute Sandals

For those of you who are too young to know about YSL's legend, pay attention:

Who was he?

- French fashion designer
- Considered to be one of "the most consistently celebrated and influential designer" who "can be credited with both spurring the couture's rise from its Sixties ashes and with finally rendering ready-to-wear reputable" (From Couture: The Great Fashion Designers, by Caroline Rennolds Milbank, 1985)

What did he do?

- Left home at age 17 to work for the French designer Christian Dior.
- Took charge of Dior house at age 21 after Dior's sudden death in 1957, and designed his first collection there in 9 weeks flat.
- Started his own label in 1962 after Dior released him in lieu of his nervous depression from having to serve in the army.

What did he design that broke the mold?

- At Dior, he made the Trapeze dress with narrow shoulders and wide swinging skirt.
- In 1960, he came up with the Parisian Beatnik Look.
- His ready-to-wear label, Rive Gauche (left side of the bank), is meant to make the less fasionable side of things fashionable, then bring it to the mainstream.
- Adapted male wardrobe for women by creating Le smoking tuxedo suit in 1966.
- In 1976, he did the Rich Peasant Look by using rich material on peasant-inspired clothing.
- He also popularized the Safari jacket, tight pants and tall, thigh-high boots, the sheath dress, leopard prints, and the black leather jacket.

What does his death signify?

- The end of an era in Haute Couture

Where do I read more?

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