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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Exhibition Review: FIT's YSL and Halston: Fashioning the 70's

le smoking
YSL Rive Gauche Le Smoking, Courtesy of FIT
The 1970's was a time for big changes in fashion, namely the demise of haute couture and the rise of pret-a-porter. In the Museum at FIT's current show, Yves Saint Laurent and Halston are the title of "biggest designers of the 1970's". With their work shown side by side, one can see that there were indeed consistent trends in this decade.

The 70's mark the rise of the designer as personality. Both YSL and Halston were featured on tv shows and partied at the infamous Studio 54. The exhibit itself mimics the infamous club with its white floors, disco ball and 70's dance music. The designers differ in how their careers ended. Halston's career declined by the end of the decade while YSL was seen as a hero of fashion upon his death. 

The exhibit features certain themes, including menswear inspiration, exoticism, and historicism. The best example of menswear inspiration is Saint Laurent's Le Smoking (above). Both designers drew on history for inspiration. For YSl this involved following in French designer Paul Poiret's orientalism with an exotic use of color. On the other hand, Halston rejected such ornamentalism. Instead, Halston drew inspiration from designers such as Vionnet and her complicated use of the bias cut and Claire McCardel's American sportswear.

When museum exhibits focus on two designers in a single decade one can forget that there were many other influential designers at the time. Such a side by side comparison seems simplistic for an entire decade.

The exhibition is open until April 18th.

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