We laughingly call the Goodwill Clearance Center, “The Dig” for reasons that would be obvious if you have ever visited one of these centers. Everything is piled high in huge bins, and one must dig for the treasure. Sometimes I want to call the place “The Heartbreak” as was the instance this week when I pulled the above garment from a pile of Forever 21 and Kathie Lee.
This was a dress from Rive Gauche, which was Yves Saint Laurent’s boutique ready-to-wear line. I say was a dress because someone had chopped off the bottom one third and left the unfinished “up-cycling” project to be put in their donate pile. I was attracted to the fine wool plaid and was pleased to see the label.
I will say straight out that I am not an expert, or even a novice when it comes to knowing the various lines that Saint Laurent designed over his long career. Something about the braid and the brass buttons were slightly reminiscent of his famous 1976 Russian Ballet collection, but the plaid was not. Because of the damage, I decided not to buy the poor mutilated thing, but I was intrigued and wanted to find out more about how Saint Laurent developed his ready-to-wear collections as compared to his couture.
When it comes to a designer who does both couture and ready-to-wear, the relationship is often thought to be one of the couture being developed first, and then the next season’s ready-to-wear is often based on the ideas of the couture. I had that in mind when looking at this piece. But after reading about how Saint Laurent actually worked, I realized that he did it the other way around. Rive Gauche was like an experimental workshop, and the clothes made for the boutique were often developed into the grand ideas of the couture.
Could some of the ideas seen on this dress gone on to be further developed as the Russian collection? I’m sure I cannot say, but it points out a valuable lesson. A garment does not have to be couture to be significant. I think that was shown very well in the recent Museum at FIT exhibition, Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the ’70s where many of the garments on display were actually Rive Gauche, and not Yves Saint Laurent couture.
I like this photo because it shows the reverse side of the fabric. Even though Rive Gauche was ready-to-wear, it was high-end and expensive. This was a very nice, finely woven wool plaid.
I have said this before, but to to remind all the DIYers out there: Think before you cut.