My roomies are probably not going to grok this post, but as the resident girl and artsie, I figure that every once in a while I get to put my foot down.
Yves Saint Laurent died yesterday in Paris at the age of seventy-one. Younger people, girls and boys both (but especially boys), are going to think that Saint Laurent was all about fashion, but that is not true, not good enough. It became true, maybe, after the 1970s, when YSL was overwhelmed by success and became a business above all.
But before that, he was glorious. Yves Saint Laurent was an artist, a man who genuinely loved women, understood women, and most of all grasped what was happening to them in historical time as he saw it and lived it and knew they were living it.
Artists are first of all craft-workers, and in another age, a better age, Saint Laurent would have been understood that way. He was a fine craftsman who made the leap to interpreting the greatest sudden shift of his own times. He put women into pants -- safari suits, trouser suits, and most wonderfully "le smoking." He sculpted women's clothes as though he cared about their dignity. He gave women all black for elegance and then wonderful floaty multi-colours for fun. In historical importance, Chanel and Dior may come close, but Saint Laurent was a singularity.
No, I could never have afforded him or his creations, given the economy he had to survive in, but as an amateur craftworker I learned a lot from him and I owe him a lot, as any woman who is now wearing the pants in public does, whether she knows it or not.
Photos of Catherine Deneuve and Yves Saint Laurent as they worked together on Luis Buñuel's film Belle de Jour (1967) from Cinebeats, who don't seem to give me a better way to cite them.