“Dreamy, indolent, sexy” Seventies
While in New York, I paid a visit to the Fashion Institute of Technology to see Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the ’70’s, which closes on April 18. I found it to be a less-than-convincing comparison of YSL (mostly haute couture) and Halston’s vaguely similar aesthetics.
Tan suede shirt dress by Halston, 1972
The problem with this exhibition was that putting together patterned pyjamas from both designers or offering the Saint Laurent safari jacket from 1968 (famously photographed on Veruschka and seen as a statement about the Vietnam war) had nothing, as far as I could see, to do with the Seventies and nor did the tan “ultra-suede” coat by Halston.
To be fair to deputy director Patricia Mears and assistant curator Emma McClendon, they were aiming both to follow the timeline of the separate designers as well as showing where their visions collided. But I just did not get where a flared-sleeve, evening kaftan from Halston fitted with a YSL silk tunic with gathered peasant sleeves and a Chinese hat.
But it was intriguing to see who had donated the Yves Saint Laurent outfits – from Lauren Bacall to Tina Chow.
The curating duo described the concept of the show as “a re-evaluation of Saint Laurent and Halston set within the larger cultural landscape of the dreamy, indolent, sexy Seventies.”
It might have been smarter to explain that it was because Yves was enlivened by the new concept of ready-to-wear and the streamlined work of designers such as Halston, that he morphed the silhouettes and concepts of his haute couture into pret-à-porter. That is what gave the French designer such power and fashion influence in the Seventies and Eighties.