Yves Saint Laurent: Back to Black
It seems like Yves Saint Laurent has been taking style cues from Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black with its latest aesthetic. Darker, more rebellious and a little rough around the edges – we track the
It seems like Yves Saint Laurent has been taking style cues from Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black with its latest aesthetic. Darker, more rebellious and a little rough around the edges – we track the story of YSL from its humble beginnings to Hedi Slimane’s departure this month.
Since the inception of the now-infamous Le Smoking (the first ever tuxedo for women) in 1966, Yves Saint Laurent has broken boundaries repeatedly with a fearlessly androgynous approach. Sexuality no longer relied on the LBD to show some skin; sharp tailoring oozed the kind of feminine power women worldwide couldn’t help but embrace.
It was photographer Helmut Newton that made Le Smoking truly iconic though; his stark, immaculate photography bought an element of sheer class that has become synonymous with YSL.
Ground-breaking yet undeniably timeless all at once; the tone of YSL was set.
Fast forward to the 21st Century and Yves Saint Laurent can proudly count the likes of Sienna Miller, Angelina Jolie, Harry Styles and Alex Turner among fans and classes Cara “eyebrows” Delevingne herself as a muse.
Photographed by Hedi Slimane, Saint Laurent’s latest campaign – La Collection De Paris – stars It-girl Cara. Modelling the AW16 Womenswear range (and the iconic “Le Smoking” suit of course), the campaign exudes a kind of monochromatic sophistication reminiscent of the ‘60s.
After Slimane’s appointment, and the controversial dropping of the Yves (replaced by Saint Laurent Paris) in June 2012, campaigns have become increasingly rebellious as they strive to reference the brand’s androgynous history. Slimane began casting musicians (strictly the outlaws) in campaigns and blurring gender boundaries even further by creating collections available for both women and men.
The label’s newest ad campaigns hark back to rebellious spirit of the punk-ridden ‘70s, with the kind of tough love the ‘90s wouldn’t refuse. Redefining the standards of luxury fashion, tattooed models are set against a stark black and white backdrop, pared back with a kind of toughened vulnerability.
Since the launch of the Saint Laurent Music Project in 2013, we have witnessed a medley of the world’s finest musical icons be photographed by Slimane himself. Always fascinated with powerful women and those who break boundaries, Jane Birkin is the latest to be added to a list including Courtney Love, Joni Mitchell and Marilyn Manson.
Just a scroll through the Vogue archives and it’s easy to see the evolution of YSL over the years. Always chic, yet always riddled with glamour, the collections and the way they are presented has become ever-more unruly. Mis-matching patterns, leopard prints to die for and leather on leather have all brought a quiet note of defiance to YSL imagery of the past few years.
SS16 womenswear was bursting with oversized fur coats and sheer slip dresses, but not without a contemporary update to “Le Smoking”, of course. SS16 menswear was equally eclectic; fringing, embossed leather and tattered plimsolls were a far cry from the brand’s squeaky-clean aesthetic of previous decades. Distinctly Ku
rt-Cobain-esque oversized sunglasses bought a grunge-inspired, darker edge to the collection.
For AW16 –which has since been confirmed as Hedi Slimane’s final month as Saint Laurent Paris’s creative director – we were treated to no-holds-barred ‘80s glam rock-inspired couture. Despite an undeniably modern, urban update to the brand aesthetic, YSL has never let its smart, sophisticated undertones slip.
YSL’s sharp beauty aesthetic has never faltered. Slicked back hair and a strong, rouge lip brings an air of sensibility that adds class and elegance to even the most outlandish of looks. A look that reminds us of the kind of androgynous, feminine power YSL first stole our hearts with.