Designer Spotlight

YVES SAINT LAURENT, Peach satin pumps, 1970s

Algerian born designer Yves Saint Laurent, (August 1st 1936- June 1st 2008), transformed the direction of women’s fashion in the 20th century. Laurent’s career began at the age of 17 for the fashion house of Christian Dior following his success in an international design competition. Four years later, Laurent found himself the Haute Couture designer for the label at the unexpected death of Dior. In 1960, following a traumatic military stint, Laurent founded his line of clothing, shoes and accessories with longtime partner Pierre Berge. The satin low-heel pumps in the Texas Tech collection are from his later creations in the 1970s, reflective of the styles from the 1930s and 1940s.

Yves Saint Laurent, Getty Images.

Berge and Laurent quickly gained fame for crafting couture-inspired ready-to-wear women’s clothing. Most famous of his designs is Le Smoking Tuxedo Suit, a female pantsuit aimed at questioning the boundaries of gender fashions. Androgynous influences such as exaggerated shoulders and undefined waistlines characteristically defined many of Laurent’s creations.

Sketch of Le Smoking Tuxedo, Yves Saint Laurent 1966. From Telegraph Media Collection.

Le Smoking Tuxedo, Yves Saint Laurent 1968. From Harper's Bazaar Collection.

Yves Saint Laurent further revolutionized late century fashion by employing the first ethnically diverse models on the runway. Bold colors, geometric shapes and masculine silhouettes additionally reflected his ethnic inspiration.

The Mondrian Dress, Yves Saint Laurent, Fall 1965 from Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection.

Yves Saint Laurent is highly credited for his emphatic influence on women’s clothing trends throughout the 20th century, encouraging empowerment and equality by redefining feminine color choice and shape.

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