Gleaning Inspiration from Yves Saint Laurent
While In Paris for Fabric Show,
photograph above via NY TimesWhile in Paris last week to take in inspiration from the world-renowned debut of luxury home fabric houses, Deco-off, I visited the new Musée Yves Saint and saw first-hand his beautiful work. The museum resides at Avenue Marceau Laurent's studio where he created his work for almost 30 years. The interior design of the museum was created by renowned interior designer and old friend, Jacques Grange. Grange had formerly designed Laurent's couture house in the 1980's as well as his homes with partner Pierre Bergé over the years, so it is appropriate he design this museum in his honor.
Even amongst the great French fashion designers before him, Yves Saint Laurent stands out as one of the most influential designers in French history. There were a few, key fashion houses before him who paved the way allowing for Laurent's timely rise, and when Paris was perfectly poised in the world's eyes as the couture capital of the world.
Today, Laurent's designs, shapes and colors feel relevant and current. Some of the very same sensibilities are translated in both fashion and for the home market, and many still come out of Paris. It feels relevant for interior designers like myself to attend Deco-off, the premiere luxury fabric house's fabric and wallpaper debuts. We are seeing these fabrics-- the designs, the inspirations, the textures and color palette at least a year before we can buy them at home back in the States. So, how did Paris become the arbiter of style and design in fashion and interior design? This path takes me straight back to the fashion world and to Laurent...
Fashion houses like Balmain, Balenciaga, Jack Fath, Coco Chanel, Givenchy and Christian Dior each offered their own specific contributions to French fashion from the 1940s and beyond, so the timing was right for a then young Yves Saint Laurent to forever change fashion and design around the world.
Yves Saint Laurent
In 1957, when Christian Dior suddenly dies, Laurent is promoted to chief designer. When Laurent unveils his Trapeze collection in 1958 he received rave reviews. The world is now celebrating this young, new talent under the watchful eye of three in-house seasoned women at Dior. We must remember that Dior was a master at branding during his rise in fashion, and he had courted the American Hollywood set, so Laurent was poised for success as his protege. Laurent then takes the Dior house's conservative reputation and turns it on its side as his designs were clearly influenced by the 1960s Beatniks in Paris and world's tumultuous issues at hand. After an unexpected stint in the French Army, and a subsequent nervous breakdown, Saint Laurent's time at Dior is short-lived. He does eventually wind up back in Paris, but this time free from the Dior house, he creates costumes for the ballet and theatre until his life partner, Pierre Bergé tirelessly helps him launch his own label in 1962.
The 1960s were a fantastic time to be a talent like Laurent, especially in Paris. He rose quickly. Soon, his perfume was a household name, his Mondrian dresses were well received and his popularity grew amongst the fashionable Parisians, and then the American Hollywood elite took notice. His infamous friendship with actress Catherine Deneuve set him on a successful path as well when he designed her costumes for the set of "Belle de Jour". Laurent left many unique contributions to us all -- tuxedos for women, design inspirations from Andy Warhol, safari-inspired fashion, the first see-through dress, duffle coats and fringed jackets. His artistic inspirations pulled at world issues and we love him for that.
Even so, he eventually returns in the 1970s and 1980s to his first-love, couture. This time period he leaves us an array of timeless beautiful designs, some of the colors and materials we are still tapping into in our modern world today. I noted this year that many of the rich, vibrant colors from his collections were prevalent at the fabric house's collections at Deco-0ff. Fabric houses like Manuel Canovas, Hermes/Dedar, JW Thompson, Pierre Frey and more are producing fabrics and wall coverings while bringing together the past and richly weaving it with our future, and that is exactly what Laurent did for fashion during his lifetime.
right: Jim Thompson Fabric
right: Dedar MilanToday, during Paris Design Week artists, interior designers and fashion houses convene in the City of Lights to debut their new collections. We will keep going back to Paris again and again to tap into that creative inspiration.
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