Yves Saint Laurent was one of the most influential designers to ever live. The Algerian-born fashion icon got his first training as a young teenager, when he fled to Paris and enrolled at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture. His impeccable designs got him noticed and he was quickly introduced to Christian Dior, where he then spent years learning under Dior’s eye and rapidly gained a reputation for his dress designs. It was in 1957, just one month after the sudden death of Christian Dior, that Yves Saint Laurent was announced design head of the house. He was only 21 years old.
While at Dior, Saint Laurent managed to shock the clientele with youth-oriented collections and hemlines that hit above the knee. He was warned to tone down, but didn’t. In 1960, three years after he got hired at Dior, Saint Laurent was called to military service and dispatched back to Algeria. Needless to say, his time at Dior was over.
It was in 1962 when Saint Laurent decided to venture out on his own, showing his first couture show. While that one garnered mixed emotions, his second show in the same year had the press praising his designs, which was just the beginning for the rising fashion designer. Throughout his career he created iconic designs, such as his 'Le Smoking suit' and his 'Mondrian dress', which all propelled fashion to what it is today. Click through to discover five of Yves Saint Laurent’s most notable contributions to fashion.
5 Diversity on the Runway
4 The Mondrian Dress - 1965
3 Le Smoking Suit – 1967
2 The Safari Jacket -1968
1 Sheer Fabrics – 1968
What is now a fixture on the catwalk, once never existed pre-Saint Laurent. Another first in his 1968 collection was the use of sheer materials in his clothing and on the runway. Today, it’s not uncommon for a design to bear a little –or a lot– of skin, but Saint Laurent was certainly the first to do it. Saint Laurent envisioned clothing that was freeing, and he created that freedom with a sheer blouse, the first to hit the runway in 1968. It was such a scandal, as the model was bare-chested underneath, that magazines refused to publish photos of the design. The look starkly contrasted the earlier designs of the decade, which were more buttoned-up, and led women’s fashion into a new era. Today, sheer-anything regularly hits the runway without so much as a blink of an eye.
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