Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: “Fashioning the 70s”
FIT Museum, 7th Ave at 27 Street, New York City
February 6 – April 18, 2015
With the insurgence of 70s styles being reinvented for the runway recently, the current exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Museum seems fitting. It celebrates the two designers who defined the sexy and glamorous fashions of the 1970s; Yves Saint Laurent and Halston. The exhibit features original pieces by both designers, and examines specifically the way they dealt with similar themes and aesthetics during the height of their careers. Both designers are equally represented by the approximately 80 ensembles and 20 accessories that are arranged thematically in an environment designed to evoke the style of this singular, dynamic era in history.
The museum’s collections hold the Halston archives—the most comprehensive records of his work in the world—as well as a vast array of significant Yves Saint Laurent pieces donated by important clients, fashion editors, friends, and colleagues of Saint Laurent. These include Lauren Bacall, Marina Schiano, Aimée de Heeren, Mary Russell, and Tina Chow.
The seventies was a defining decade in fashion. Sandwiched between the counterculture 1960s and the opulent 1980s, it was a period of change in fashion, with haute couture giving way to designer-led conglomerates and a mix of the eclectic with the somber, reflecting the mood of individual expression along with a souring economic environment.
The first section in the exhibition demonstrates how Saint Laurent and Halston drew on menswear when creating clothing for women. After the debut of his Le Smoking woman’s tuxedo in 1966, Saint Laurent’s experimentation with menswear reached a zenith in the 1970s. He played on different archetypes including the pinstripe “gangster” suit, safari jacket, and utilitarian jumpsuit throughout the decade to create looks that have become synonymous with a Saint Laurent style. Likewise, menswear informed many of Halston’s best-known designs, including his most famous garment, the Ultrasuede shirtwaist dress. These classic pieces included cashmere turtlenecks, matching cardigans, Ultrasuede jackets, and trim trousers, which reflected Halston’s own subtly unisex style.