Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Yves St Laurent - his legacy

Vicki Woods, who I occasionally run into at parties, has a lovely piece on Yves St Laurent in the Telegraph with an accompanying illustration of sketches for his 1967 show:

It falls to very few dressmakers to effect radical, universal change on women's dress. Saint Laurent was one. Pierre Bergé has said over and over: 'Chanel liberated women; Saint Laurent gave them power.' Translation: Chanel chucked out 1,000 years of corseting; Saint Laurent stopped women in trousers looking like subversive cross-dressers.

In June the telly coverage of his almost-state funeral gave a walking proof of that. As the coffin, draped in the tricolour, arrived at the Eglise Saint-Roch, it was met by the French head of state and his wife. Being on presidential duty, Nicolas Sarkozy naturally wore the formally tailored masculine uniform of every male politician, diplomat and white-collar worker across the West, ie a two-piece business suit in sober-coloured cloth.

But so did his wife. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy was a) uncorseted and b) in a black jumper (both thanks to Chanel) and wearing a sober, unadorned, tailored trouser-suit in charcoal grey - thanks to Saint Laurent. Half the women mourners (many former YSL models, as Bruni was) were in 'I'm serious' trouser-suits: the direct result of the masculin/féminin silhouette he exploded on to the world in the late 1960s.

Who's ever seen Condoleezza Rice in anything but a pantsuit? She, you, me and every 20-year-old who (even reluctantly) only has one trouser-suit in her wardrobe for days when nothing else will do the business - we are Yves Saint Laurent's legacy.


phyllis said...

Vicki Woods read my mind when I got to this: "I barely realised that my only serious interview outfit (khaki safari suit) was YSL-inspired..."

I'd wager that 99.9% of job hunting women wear a panstsuit to an interview. I doubt YSL ever intended that his revolutionary act would have that effect, but it came right when women were entering the workforce and seeking equal footing with men in business.

Woman had no business armour before the YSL pantsuit. He enabled us to stop dressing like secretaries.

Toby Wollin said...

I remember when my sister went for her junior year abroad in 1970 to France - packed into her trunk were...three pantsuits.

Wendy said...

The writer forgot that Condalezza Rice does indeed get out of a pantsuit on occasion, showing her very good legs to advantage.