Ives Saint Laurent: Fashion, Art and the Body


The new French film Ives Saint Laurent shows the life and work of the well-known fashion designer; even if the film is slightly more dedicated to his personal life than professional work it is still worth watching as life and work are especially closed in an artist’s life. That is what Ives S. Laurent was: an artist. A deeper insight in a fashion designer’s life like him or, say, Chanel, changes what could be a common idea among intellectual people of fashion: pure banality. But it is not at all such a thing; of course here I am talking about the great fashion masters, and up to today, I am only aware of these two I mention here, so it is not an easy think to find around. What I refer to talking of them is mainly two things: the ability of seeing dress as art properly speaking, and the power to change the approach to the female body. Ives S. Laurent did so.

Ives’s passion for drawing is of an artistic nature, and his capacity to see beyond actual customs is properly of a genius. One of the most interesting things this high fashion is able to do is to cause a new conception of the feminine and the female body, it remakes woman. Ives’ collection ‘Libertine’ in the 1980s was a claim against bourgeoise society and, as he said, it made women not equal to men but more than equal: their rivalries:


The dress above is indeed manlike and provocative. This designs were accompanied by a high sexualised add evoking a kind of hetero- and homosexual orgy. In another of his collections he literally turns art into dress:

YSL's modrian dress

The body may also be conceived as artistic as it is the place where art takes really its form, that is, there is no artistic fashion without a body to wear it. Therefore, art affects the body and what is considered art may influence the approach to the body. To dress the human body, if majestically, is a powerful act; it gives the body a meaning, and with that, a purpose. The conception of human being is made by the way it is dressed, by an act of creation able to re-imagine the subject. The human being is, in a way, already behind the designs of an artist who can change the individual, it is born again in every pencil draw. Thus, fashion belongs to a particular century and its predominant philosophy, it is its more visual, immanent and tangible part of the conception of woman, or man, in a place and a time.

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