No one did De Stijl like Yves Saint Laurent

How the designer took one of the most minimal arts styles, added accessories - and made it more chic!
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Black diamanté and white pearl earrings (made by Scemama), clip-on topaz and red and green diamanté star ornament (made by Scemama), worn with Piet Mondrian-inspired cocktail dresses, Autumn/Winter 1965 haute couture collection, Vogue (US), September 1965 (photographs by Irving Penn from our book YSL Accessories)
Black diamanté and white pearl earrings (made by Scemama), clip-on topaz and red and green diamanté star ornament (made by Scemama), worn with Piet Mondrian-inspired cocktail dresses, Autumn/Winter 1965 haute couture collection, Vogue (US), September 1965 (photographs by Irving Penn from our book YSL Accessories)

Yves Saint Laurent never believed that “accessories” were mere subordinate afterthoughts, as the word implies. Although he came to prominence in an increasingly permissive age when the strict sartorial formalities of a more genteel era were being swept away, he could never envisage a dress without also imagining the hats, gloves and jewellery that would accompany it. That was the way it had been when he started out, and part of him still hankered for those times.

 

French Vogue's September 1965 cover featuring Yves Saint Laurent's designs
French Vogue's September 1965 cover featuring Yves Saint Laurent's designs

We see this in the additions he created for a cocktail dress for an Autumn 1965 haute couture collection, featured in Vogue. As author Patrick Mauriès explains in our new book Yves Saint Laurent Accessories, the dress was inspired by Piet Mondrian, the member of the Dutch De Stijl art group whose “neoplastic” works were abstract studies in colour and geometry, squares and rectangles in particular.

 

Patent-leather court shoes with square silvered metal buckles (made by Roger Vivier), Autumn/Winter 1965 haute couture collection. Produced by Vivier from a design by Yves Saint Laurent, these shoes were to become a Saint Laurent classic. They were also worn by Catherine Deneuve in Luis Buñuel’s film Belle de Jour (1967). Picture credit: © Lavanchy Matthieu
Patent-leather court shoes with square silvered metal buckles (made by Roger Vivier), Autumn/Winter 1965 haute couture collection. Produced by Vivier from a design by Yves Saint Laurent, these shoes were to become a Saint Laurent classic. They were also worn by Catherine Deneuve in Luis Buñuel’s film Belle de Jour (1967). Picture credit: © Lavanchy Matthieu

It might have seemed like an offence to gild the deliberately minimalist design of such a dress with additional jewellery. However, Mondrian, through sheer, audacity combined with exquisite taste, succeeds. Collaborating with his former Dior associate the parurier – or fastenings, jewllery and accessories designer - Roger Scemama, Saint-Laurent creates diamanté and pearl earrings in keeping with the dress's colour scheme, and, audaciously, a clip-on topaz and red and green diamanté star ornament. It's the perfect marriage of modernity and bygone, elaborate formality.

 

Yves Saint Laurent Accessories

Check back soon for more stories all about Yves, and for a better look at his small, yet perfectly formed works, order Yves Saint Laurent Accessories.


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