60 years of Saint Laurent
Photography: Rory van Millingen
Le Smoking, Betty Catroux, Helmut Newton, Mondrian dresses, safari jackets, Bianca Jagger’s all-white wedding suit, Marrakech, Rive Gauche. 60 years after its inception, you’d be hard-pressed to find a brand that has redefined the fashion sphere like Saint Laurent. The inimitable label, founded in Paris by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé in 1962, carved a new norm, bringing the styles and silhouettes of the street straight to the catwalk in a haze of cigarette smoke and meticulous tailoring.
Marking this milestone, we took the chance to celebrate the house’s inimitable history, digging deep through the gilded halls of the Saint Laurent archive to create a unique time-warping series of images that styles iconic pieces from Yves’ 70s collections with those from the present-day runway of artistic director Anthony Vaccarello; forging a dialogue between these two designers united under one house.
The house’s journey begins in post-war France, five years after Yves Saint Laurent’s appointment as head designer at Dior when he was just 21-years-old. Having been unlawfully fired from the brand when he was conscripted to fight in the Algerian War of Independence, Laurent used his winnings from the case to construct an empire of his own, placing a renewed focus on youth culture and the irreverent Left Bank style of the time.
RIVE GAUCHE 1990
Weaving decadent staples from bygone eras like the 20s and 30s into the mix, his agenda-setting reign kicked off in 1965 with a feat of design known as the Mondrian Dress – translating the Dutch artist’s De Stijl works across immaculate cocktail tailoring. This was the first of many artistic references that would filter through Yves’ work, from Matisse to Picasso, and set a president for today’s art-fashion runway crossovers (look no further than Vaccarello’s artistic team-ups with the likes of British artist Indigo Lewin and this 2021 collection dedicated to the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat).
A year later came another classic, the Le Smoking Suit, a three-piece tuxedo inspired by the androgynous style of model and label muse Danielle Luquet, who would go on to collect many of the label’s couture pieces. Laurent used nipped waists, clean lines, elongated legs and black silk to redefine the female form, effectively snatching the power suit baton held by Marlene Dietrich and repackaging it with powerful punctuation.
SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO
Laurent continued his trailblazing ascension to the fashion big leagues by looking to those outside of this exclusive world, and established Saint Laurent Rive Gauche in 1966: the pioneering ready-to-wear line was the first designer subsidiary label that took its name from a couturier, and offered consumers the world over a chance to buy Yves’ clothing. Lending its name from the Paris location in which its boutique called home, the line integrated and elevated the styles of their surrounding streets into high-fashion, inspired by the existentialists of Paris’s bohemian Left Bank, shaking the fashion world to a new alignment that continues today.
Today, Anthony Vaccarello reinterprets the house’s codes for a new generation. Using the Maison’s archives as a springboard, the designer is well-versed in the language of Saint Laurent, layering subtle references within a steadfast attitude of elegant provocation – one perfectly in tune with Yves’ own.
JACKET RIVE GAUCHE AUTOMNE HIVER 1973; ALL OTHER PIECES BY SAINT LAURENT BY ANTHONY VACCARELLO
RIVE GAUCHE AUTOMNE HIVER 1973