The Clock Stops Here...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

All About Yves

Well, I was shocked and saddened to read about Yves St. Laurent's passing this week at age 71...particularly since I thought he already did that. I think I must have confused it with his retirement in 2002. I am la moron.

The extraordinary Yves, took over the House of Dior in 1957, (after Dior's death), at the tender age of 21. For the next 40 plus years, he had a remarkable career, with his partner Pierre Berge. His ideas were true firsts, lovingly remembered by many designers in their collections; Yves made the pea coat and blazer a wardrobe standard, introduced pantsuits and his famous "Le Smoking", women dressed for evening in Tuxedo's. He made safari looks seem tame enough for lunch with the girls and was a master colorist, mixing saffron, purple and teal in exotic satin gowns and beaded confections. Yves globe trotted, and created fantasy clothes inspired by the Russian Ballet and African tribal wear. He translated his love of stark cubism, into chic sheaths worn by his muses, Betty Catroux and Loulou de la Falaise. Yves was the first designer to use a black runway model, the marvelous Pat Cleveland graced the catwalk for many collections, breaking trendsetting new ground. Yves and Pierre Berge changed the direction of french couture forever, by opening their Rive Gauche boutique in Paris in the seventies. This was gorgeous, luxe fashion, made slightly more affordable, because it was "ready-to-wear", versus fit to an individual client. Though fragile, physically and emotionally, Yves St. Laurent was a genius, and his contribution to fashion and business is a memorable legacy.

My first recollections of YSL were though my Auntie Dee. Dee Dee is my Mom's glamorous sister, who wore Pucci, YSL, false eyelashes and Estee Lauder's Youth Dew. She was and still is hilarious, silly, and drop dead chic. She is our version of Auntie Mame and we adore her.

When we were kids, she spoiled us rotten, (in fact, thankfully, she still does). She and my uncle often used to take long cruises. Back in the day, people dressed on ships, and I loved to watch her pack the formal ensembles that she would be wearing to dinner. (Oppose this tragically, to today's shipmate dining companions. All gussied up, might include Gold Toe, over the calf, black ribbed socks, worn with open toed Birkenstock's, walking shorts and a short sleeved "dress shirt". The world is going to hell in a hand basket, whatever the hell this means).

Dee Dee is petite. I wasn't, which for once, was an advantage in my youth. Tall and skinny, somehow her clothes fit me. I remember borrowing a silk patchwork YSL peasant skirt, with a wide belt and off the shoulder blouse, to a black tie Bar Mitzvah at the Pierre. The fact that I was dressed more elegantly than half the women in the room was not lost on me...or them. I was 13 and felt like a million bucks.

Thus began my love affair with Yves. I remember studying his work in Vogue and the Fashion of the Time's magazine, unable to take my eyes off of his beautiful, colorful creations. They mesmerized me...(Too bad I didn't study my algebra as intently).

Recently, I blogged about visiting the Met's Costume Exhibit, Blog.Mode:Addressing Fashion, (April 2nd, "Ambien, Don't Leave Home Without It"). I wrote that of all the fashions exhibited, my hands down favorite, was the daffodil yellow, full length silk evening coat, with a train, designed by Yves and owned by the divine Nan Kempner...It bears asking again, (gosh, I am quoting me)!!! "Who else besides Yves and Nan, could make an exit more breathtaking than an entrance"?

And now I will answer...Absolutely, no one. Yves and Dee Dee, je t'adore.


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