Was YSL a feminist?
This was a question that I’d never before considered relevant, let alone taken the time to ponder. Yet, when I went to see Laurent Cotta speak at the Bata Shoe Museum on a rainy Wednesday, he chose to focus on the relevance of YSL’s designs, his personal history, and his creative inspirations. Laurent Cotta is a Parisian fashion and art historian and has lectured on the influence of Yves Saint Laurent across Europe and North America since 2004. By the end of my short but thorough education, I had a new understanding of what YSL meant to fashion, historically and today.
In my mind, the name Yves Saint Laurent had always brought about a sort of fancy, unattainable feeling, a classic idea of a long-ago perfected look that is still constantly referenced and adored today. Few self-proclaimed fashion lovers are unaware of YSL’s contribution to the fashion world, and some, like Cotta, have even dedicated their lives to studying his personal history.
YSL started out in the mid-1950s as the young assistant of Christian Dior. Year after year, more of his designs were selected to be in the haute couture shows and, in 1958, after Dior’s death, he succeeded him as Head of House. Although newspapers hailed his 1958 collection as having “saved France,” his 1960 beatnik-inspired spring/summer collection was not well received by the public. The House felt his liberal use of leather and alligator-skin motorcycle jackets mixed with thin, feminine sweaters were a misrepresentation of Dior. This misstep led to his dismissal. One year later, YSL and his partner, Pierre Bergé, started their own house of couture, and just like that, the famed Yves Saint Laurent brand was born. YSL created a simple look accessible to both men and women, believing both genders could dress the same if they adhered to classic designs. As an example, he even posed in his own fashion shoots dressed in a similar way to his sister. A supporter of women’s liberation, YSL’s philosophy demanded that outfits be practical and easy to wear. He explored androgyny throughout his career, especially towards the late ’60s, when he famously took to creating tuxedo-style looks for women.
After the big night we had Saturday, everyone at WORN may be forgiven for suffering from some residual delirium, which probably helps explain the immense glee we derived from the process of titling our first batch of pictures from the event, now up on our Flickr feed. We spent a good portion of the afternoon inserting the word shoe into song titles…
Never Gonna Give Shoe Up
Say Shoe, Say Me
I Want Shoe To Want Me
Shoe’s Come Undone
Shoe Can’t Always Get What Shoe Want
I Get a Kick Out of Shoe
I’ve Got Shoe Under My Shin
Got any more?
It hardly seemed possible, but last night, after months of planning, stress, and shameless self-promotion, the SOL[e]D! party happened. Now, it’s no secret that WORN readers are a stylish bunch, but the steady stream of fabulous that came through the doors at the Bata Shoe Museum to celebrate and support the launch of Issue No. 8. was the stuff of legend. In keeping with the evening’s theme, the collection of footwear was divine, from thigh-high lace-up boots (you know who you are!) to sky-high stilettos and everything in between. Dresses were saucy and hats were haute. The men gave Jon Hamm a run for his money. To every person who attended, thank you for your support, without which this publication would not exist.
When time came for the live auction, the crowd rose to the challenge and intrepid auctioneer Amanda MacDonald handled the room like a pro. Thanks to all of you who bid for helping make our fundraiser a success, and congratulations to all of you who won your bids – you walked away with some really beautiful, one-of-a-kind work. The Shake a Tail DJs capped the night with excellent music and it was great to see all our staff together (especially our senior editors who came from Montreal and New York), celebrating an evening they worked so hard to bring together.
In anticipation of SOL[e]D!, our fundraiser event being held on June 6th at Toronto’s Bata Shoe Museum, we’ve got six free passes to the museum to give away! How can you get your hands on one of them? The next six people who purchase tickets to the SOL[e]D! event online will be the lucky recipients. This is a great chance to spend extra time exploring the Bata’s superb exhibits (and also free up more time to spend enjoying the party)! Each pass is valid until the end of the year and is good for one admission to the museum. Give it to a friend or save it for yourself, but remember: we’re only giving these out to the next six people who buy tickets to the event online, so if you’ve been waiting to buy, now’s the time! Buy your tickets here, and remember they come with a two-year subscription!