Yves Saint Laurent – Masculin/Féminin

As we start to see the Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal retrospective come together, our Museum blog will update you on features, plans and behind-the-scenes access to this exhibition.

One of the themes of the exhibition is Masculin/Féminin. As Yves Saint Laurent once said: ‘Fashion fades, style is eternal’ – the exhibition will present Yves Saint Laurent’s signature pieces which soon became part of YSL’s basic house style, so his idea of style being ‘eternal’ definitely remains today.

Pantsuit, Spring-Summer 1967
Pantsuit, Spring-Summer 1967

In the 1960s Yves Saint Laurent was inspired by simple utilitarian garments, particularly the cut, shape and style of uniforms and he wanted to translate this into womenswear. This concept was visible in the trench coat of 1962 and the officer’s jacket 1967 – two pieces which will feature in the exhibition. The garments for the Masculin/Féminin section of the exhibition, selected by the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent and Joanna Hashagen (Curator, Fashion & Textiles), have made significant references and connections with our own collection here at The Bowes Museum. Within the masculin/féminin section of the exhibition, we will display a Northern Cyclist’s Battalion Tunic from our own collection alongside a YSL trouser suit. This will illustrate his inspirations and influences from practical and functional outfits such as army wear and uniforms.

Northern Cyclist's Battalion Tunic, 1916
Northern Cyclist’s Battalion Tunic, 1916

Yves Saint Laurent was an advocate of simplicity but did not want to abandon the femininity of dresses and skirts, so he experimented with the idea of combining masculine and feminine style. With this in mind he went on to create famous garments which are still fashionable today, including the safari jacket and the jumpsuit.

By Hannah Jackson, Assistant Curator of Fashion & Textiles

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