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.

That thing that's happening in America.

Yesterday I was asked at very short notice to fill in for another columnist at the Guardian and turn round a piece in an hour. I wrote about Sarah Palin and small town American values. If you'd like to read the piece it's here. If you'd like to comment I request you do it on the Guardian's site, not this one. I can't turn off comments for one post only, and I don't want to pre-screen comments unless it's really necessary. So head off there and join the fire storm.