FASHION & STYLE: YSL, HALSTON AND THE DECADENT 70S TAKE FIT
On Friday, the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum will cut the ribbon on Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s. The show is the first to juxtapose the two iconic designers’ work, exploring their parallel experimentation with fabrics, silhouettes and prints. The garments, sourced exclusively from FIT’s vast archives, will be arranged “thematically in an environment designed to evoke the style of this singular, dynamic era in history.”
Saint Laurent and Halston were without question the two designers who most defined the sartorial code of the 1970s. Though the legendary decadence of their lifestyles is well documented, the biographies of the designers are not the focus of the exhibit — the clothes are. While the two are often placed opposite each other on the design spectrum — Halston the master of American minimalist form and function, Saint Laurent the king of French fantasy — their work shares thematic similarities, even if the execution differs. Saint Laurent’s sumptuous exploration of the exotic in his Russian and Chinese-inspired collections of the late 70s were simultaneously channeled by Halston in tamer fashion that focuses more on construction than embellishment. Both creators made the most of body-conscious gowns that epitomized the slinky disco chic of the era.
Curated by FIT Museum Deputy Director Patricia Mears and Assistant Curator Emma McClendon, the exhibit is arranged chronologically. Beginning with the start of each designer’s career, Halston’s establishment in Chicago as a hat designer and Saint Laurent’s arrival in Paris from Algeria, the galleries are punctuated by pieces owned and designed for the great muses of the era: Lauren Bacall, Marina Schiano and Jane Holzer.
“We realized no one had never examined them as [fashion] rivals,” said Mears to WWD’s Bridget Foley. “They embraced exoticism, incorporating clothes from various parts of the world into their wardrobes. And dress codes were relaxed. It wasn’t a matter of day or evening; you could wear the same thing. The rules were thrown out. So I think they were looking for a vocabulary, something to define the decade.”
Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s runs from February 6 through April 18 at The Museum at FIT.
Images via FIT Museum