“The modern woman is artistically literate, well traveled, and a sexually liberated being”. It was no secret that Yves Saint Laurent fell under the spell of beautiful women, whom he often made into his muse. Each of the women had their trademark in both beauty and individuality, including Victorie Doutreleau, Catherine Deneuve, Betty Catroux, and Katoucha Niane. Yves first muse was his mother Lucienne, who consistently presented herself as this sort of maquillaged creature in his eyes. During the day Lucienne would wear blouses with fresh, crisp laundered skirts, and by evening she would change into full bodied gowns, to be paired with high heels. It was Lucienne who encouraged her sons interest in fashion, often taking him with her on trips to pick up the latest edition of Vogue, or bringing him out to the theatre. It was also Lucienne that gave Yves all his support that would make him a success in his not so distant future. Most of us have heard the rumours, and find Yve’s life to be surrounded by a screen of conjecture. It’s known that he had a jet set lifestyle that lead him to the nightclubs of Paris, and the US. That Yves is celebrated as the man who put women into trousers, as he (just like Chanel) began feminizing the male wardrobe. He adapted the male tuxedo, safari jackets (Saharienne safari jacket), and eventually created the famous smoking suit for the women who had attitude. His work was seen as being beyond the monde de la mode.
The Algerian born designer did not only draw inspiration from his muses, but from the streets, as he often was by what the existentialists were wearing, and even thinking. He also had a great fondness for the ballet, including the Russian ballet that held a prominent presence within Paris. Like Chanel, and Christian Dior, Yves also fell under the allure of Russia. Yves Saint Laurent’s Fall Winter 1976 collection began production with the petite mains- workshops who specialized in embroidery, passementerie, lace, feather work, and Jewelry. The 1976 collection has often been referred to as “Ballet Russes,Opera et Ballet Russes, Rich Peasant, The Russian Collection, or simply as YSL’s 1976 collection”. The garments drew from an assortment of Russian influence, starting with Russia’s infamous Cossack warriors. There was also inspiration found in Russian peasant wear, and by the bakst costumes featured in the actual Ballet Russes. Of course Yves made sure to add a bit of functionality in his work, to make his fall/winter Haute Couture collection more suitable for the street.
Next Yves would chose to stage a performance that would act as a “first of it’s kind” runway show to entrance the audience. It was the first time a fashion show would be held in the gilded salons of the InterContinental Hotel. Models walked the runway twirling and moving about, to elaborate the movement and iridescence of each garment. The audience was transfixed by the details and the use of suede, wool, the brocaded coats, muslin skirts, tunics, velvet, bolero jackets, lamé shawls, gold trimmings, and silk chiffon blouses. While the Russian inspired ball gowns were opulent in colour, and each skirt was supported by a taffeta petticoat.
It may not be the best, but it’s certainly the most beautiful. – Yves Saint Laurent on his Ballet Russes collection A revolutionary collection which will change the course of fashion in the world. -The New York Times
Yves F/W 1976 Ballet Russes collection at the InterContinental Hotel
The Ballet Russes collection became an unrivalled success story, even in modern day it is still considered to be one of the best by any designer of all time. This collection also proved that Haute Couture successfully lived during the 1970’s. As a designer Yves struggled with life, but his brilliance will live on, as well as his taste for the excess of elegance. There is also a sadness in knowing that the last of the french couturiers died with Yves Saint Laurent.
Isn’t elegance forgetting what one is wearing?- Yves Saint Laurent
I hope you enjoyed this little historical post about another famous French couturier who was inspired by Russia! You can also check out my past posts on Chanel’s Russian influence(Excuse My Russian Chanel), as well as Christian Dior’s (Dior’s Amorous Affair With Russia) Also I hope you enjoy these haunting YSL video’s one is of the famous 1976 collection, the other two have captivated me with their haunting music and involve….ballet. More photo’s of the Ballet Russes collection can be seen on my pinterest page @zaychishka https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfsnSfFmObc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPFOjvEVsik https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QG_wFckxUN0