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.