Back in February I was lucky to see this exhibition at FIT, Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the ’70s. I usually like to take my exhibition journal and do drawings on site, but in some cases that is just not possible. For this trip I didn’t even take the journal with me, as baggage was tight. Also, I knew that I could depend on FIT to provide excellent brochures about each exhibition.
I was glad that I had decided not to try and sketch. I had two friends with me, and sketching takes time. And there is so much to do in New York and we had so much to see. But the big reason I decided not to try sketching on site was because the Museum at FIT is always very busy. People are constantly moving around the exhibits and it is hard for me to concentrate with so much activity. One gallery has seats which are nice for drawers, but others do not, and I can’t draw standing.
So instead I took lots of photos of the details, planning to do my sketches later. That didn’t happen though, as I just had so much going on in my head with all the other excitement from the trip. So I decided to rely on the materials provided by FIT. Because of that, this journal entry focuses more on what the curators wanted me to take from the exhibition rather than my own observations. That’s not ideal, but sometimes it just has to be that way.
Probably the biggest takeaway from this exhibition is how time gives a clearer vision as to the zeitgeist of an era. In the 1970s I don’t think many people would have been able to look at the work of Saint Laurent and of Halston and see how they were both pulling from similar influences. At the time the differences overshadowed the similarities.
But using that marvelous tool called hindsight, we can step out of the era to see where both designers were influenced by the same things. It was their approach that was different.
I’ve heard the 1970s referred to as “the decade that taste forgot.” I think this exhibition can put that line to rest.
9 responses to “Exhibition Journal – Yves Saint Laurent + Halston”
Yes I agree about putting that line to rest, are there any more elegant and tasteful designers than YSL and Halston?
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I think it’s the memory of icky fabrics (like scratchy polyester) and perhaps some of the color combinations that give the 1970s a bad reputation in most people’s minds. The style lines of the ’70s were and still are beautiful!
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True, and it seems like all the photos of that era have faded to a sickly tone, which makes everything look funky, but not in a good way.
I turned 13 in 1974, and as a fashion-conscious teen who loved the elegant simplicity of early 1960s style both formal wear and sports wear (think Jackie Kennedy/Oleg Cassini/Lily Pulitzer and Audrey Hepburn/Givenchy/Jax)…well, let’s just say by comparison that shopping at the local mall in the mid-seventies (synthetic-city), was a pretty dismal prospect. I was too young and couldn’t afford the really great designer clothing of that era but, looking back, I think early Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein and Diane Von Furstenberg were pretty fabulous. Also loved Halston and remember well when Yves Saint Laurent debuted his line of Russian influenced clothing.
P.S. Back in the day and just by chance, I actually got to see young Diane Von F up close in NYC when she launched her first fragrance, “Tatiana” with a parade of exotically attired models gliding up (if memory serves correctly) Fifth Avenue, where they were handing out free fragrance samples – such fun!
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Fascinating to see what FIT actually makes available & a good thing to know, if ever I should get there ~ thank you!
This is a wonderful way to make use of the hand outs sometimes available in museums. You can structure them in ways that make the experience more memorable. An inspiration, Lizzie!
This was such a good exhibit. I thought many of the Halston pieces looked contemporary.
Great observations, Lizzie. (That line should be applied to the fashions in the 1980s, as far as I am concerned!)
I especially love those two fur-trimmed looks in your last photo. They totally looks like something out of some recent-ish fall collections.