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Fashion Metamorphosis: Yves Saint Laurent

With the unfortunate passing of one of fashion's greatest inspirations, Yves Saint Laurent, I thought it would be fitting to take you through the fashion metamorphosis of Yves himself, his revolutionary brand, and its many successors. What many people don't know is that YSL officially started in the fashion business when Christian Dior died in October of 1957. At the age of 21, Yves was thrust into the spotlight, and more importantly, into the role of head designer of the house of Dior. Talk about moving on up, quickly.


(L-R: Model Danielle Sauvajeon in Paris fashion show in 1968; Fall '94; Spring '02 RTW; Fall '08 RTW)

During his three-year stint at Dior, YSL set trends such as midcalf skirts when his competitors were showing knee-length. He introduced black leather jackets trimmed in fur in his "chic Beatnik" collection; it was heavily criticized. But that didn't stop him. All it did was fuel him to start his own business in 1961. His first collection wasn't so well-received, but his second collection elevated him to the status of Balenciaga and Hubert de Givenchy.

To hear more about the evolution of Yves Saint Laurent, read more

Unlike Balenciaga, Chanel, and Givenchy, however, YSL always shifted gears and rarely stuck to one look from season to season. What set him apart is that he was able to see that fashion came from the youth of the streets. He was able to understand that people wanted clothes that can translate from day to evening. Hence why he introduced his revolutionary CityPant collection and the women's tuxedo suit, "le smoking." In 1991, ready-to-wear was briefly handed over to Alber Elbaz, who was appointed by YSL himself, but he was dropped after three seasons. That's when Tom Ford stepped in. It's no secret, though, that YSL wasn't very fond of where Tom was leading the brand. In 2002, YSL retired completely, and the future of the house is now in the hands of current creative director, Stefano Pilati, who took over in 2004. Who knows where the brand will go from here, but one thing is certain: Yves Saint Laurent's creative genius will sorely be missed.

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