Yves Saint Laurent came into his own right as a designer at the start of the 1960s, at the dawn of pop culture and when there was an unquenchable thirst for new ideas and designs. Over the next two decades, the man with the dark-rimmed glasses and wide grin ruled supreme over the fashion industry. By examining four of his greatest contributions, it’s easy to understand how Saint Laurent became the first living designer to have a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1983, the crowning achievement of a career that lasted 50 years.
How did Yves Saint Laurent influence fashion?
By transmuting fine art into fashion
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
‘A game of modesty, the contrast between old and new, the boom of a soundtrack, a light bulb, the delicate exercise of the feminine form’, is a snippet of Kym Ellery‘s exposition of her latest collection at Paris Fall 2016. Abstruse, maybe, but also par for the course for any modern fashion designer. Saint Laurent’s artistic inspirations in the 1960s and ’70s came down the runway in decidedly more explicit forms. The Mondrian shift dresses of 1965 hung from the models’ frames like canvasses, thanks to their expert construction, and the black lines and blocks of primary colors were identical in their orderliness to the original paintings. These six creations received a standing ovation on their debut, featured on the cover of French Vogue, and following a flood of imitations, became a defining look of the decade. Similar homages followed in Saint Laurent’s career, including to Wesselmann in 1966, Picasso in 1979, Matisse in 1980 and Van Gogh in 1988.
By pioneering androgynous chic
The blurring of gender lines on catwalks, billboards, and high streets may seem like a distinctly 21st-century fashion phenomenon, a look to be rocked by Kristen Stewart or Rihanna, but it is a trend with a 100-year history. Coco Chanel took the necessity of women wearing trousers in order to perform traditionally male tasks during the First World War and gave it style. With her signature tweed suits, there was an element of borrowing from menswear, though these were always paired with skirts. Saint Laurent took it to the next level. In 1967, he introduced Le Smoking, a tuxedo for women. This was, without question, a feminized version of the suit, accented with satin and paired with a frilly white shirt. Nevertheless, its statement was unequivocal: a modern woman, if she so wished, could now literally and figuratively wear the trousers, and look damn good doing it.
By normalizing the nipple
The female nipple may still be enchained on social media, and under many of the world’s legislative systems, but it has for a long while been free on the runway. An inadvertent grandfather of the movement, Saint Laurent first featured sheer materials in his 1968 collection. At the time, the appearance of braless models was not universally applauded. Indeed, numerous publications refused to publish photographs of his designs. However, throughout his career, Saint Laurent persisted in creating organza blouses and couture gowns which embodied his ideas of freedom and sexual equality. In doing so, he reforged attitudes in the fashion industry to the extent that nowadays, in this particular universe at least, an exposed nipple is no more scandalous than a button or a broach.
By advocating diversity
The fashion industry quickly evolved to be as much about the clothes as it is about who’s wearing them. Sadly, though the diversity of design expanded with each passing season, never failing to surprise and inspire, the growth in the number of people of color on the catwalks was altogether more lackluster. Saint Laurent was an early exception to this, championing diversity in casting and opening doors that were unjustly closed in the faces of deserving models like Naomi Campbell, who credits the designer for her first French Vogue cover. Saint Laurent’s influential stance, in addition to the obvious talents of models like Iman, Campbell, and Jourdan Dunn and the hard campaigning of industry activists, has led to a more just and representative industry.
Yves Saint Laurent’s Biography: What You Need to Know
When and where was Yves Saint Laurent born? August 1st, 1936, in Oran, French Algeria.
What was his full name? Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent.
Where did he grow up? In a villa on the Mediterranean until he moved to Paris to study fashion at the age of 17.
How did he get his big break? Michel De Brunhoff, the editor-in-chief of French Vogue, introduced him to Christian Dior, who immediately took him under his wing as an apprentice.
How did he make his name? Following the sudden death of his mentor in 1957, Saint Laurent was named the head designer at the House of Dior. His spring 1958 collection saved the company from financial ruin.
Why was 1960 such a bad year for him? He was conscripted to serve in the French Army during the Algerian War of Independence but served only 20 days due to stress caused by hazing from fellow soldiers. While recovering in the hospital, he was sacked by Dior. This led to a suspected breakdown and forced treatment with large doses of sedatives, psychoactive drugs, and electroshock therapy.
How did he make his comeback? Saint Laurent sued Dior for a breach of contract and won. Soon after, he formed his own eponymous fashion house with the help of Pierre Bergé, his partner in love and business.
How did it all end? He retired in 2002 and lived increasingly reclusively in his seaside residences in Normandy and Morocco. He was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2008 and died weeks later on June 1st.
5 Famous Yves Saint Laurent Quotes to Use in Your Next Conversation and/or Instagram Post
Over the years, I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it.
Fashions fade, style is eternal.
We must never confuse elegance with snobbery.
I wish I had invented blue jeans. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity — all I hope for in my clothes.
Isn’t elegance forgetting what one is wearing?
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.