Details and curiosities of the most scandalous collection by Yves Saint Laurent presented in 1971, the one that shocked Paris: The Scandal Collection

Fashion with a meaning. Fashion that makes you think. Fashion that wants to shock, or scandalize. Is it all of this – or much more – Yves Saint Laurent, the stylist who has always dared with his creations, without thinking too much about the reactions of the Parisian public, even when he was in charge of Christian Dior. If a black crocodile-print leather jacket cost him his job on Avenue Montaigne, at the same time, his audacity he was worth eternity under his own name.

© Yves Saint Laurent 1971 the collection du Scandale – Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris – Fondation Pierre Bergé

His first appearance as a soloist was in 1962, in a calm Paris immersed in feminine glamor made of corolla cut fabrics and coordinated hats. The first years of this decade, in reality, are a ferment of new ideas: art, cinema, music and fashion are contaminated with the street and subcultures. The genius of Yves is sensed by Diana Vreeland of Vogue America who is delighted at 30 bis rue Spontini “The style of Saint Laurent is perfectly in step with the times: elegant but with that frisson that gives an allure as sophisticated as it is original. His creativity is comparable to a sponge: what he sees he interprets with originality, exploring new paths“.

© Yves Saint Laurent 1971 the collection du Scandale – Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris – Fondation Pierre Bergé

To create dismay, shock and scandal is another collection presented on January 29, 1971, to present the haute couture spring summer collection. Alison Adburgham of the Guardian calls it a “tour de force of bad taste“. Crushed or, perhaps, it doesn’t happen, that fashion show does not pass the Parisian exam. But what did the ladies of the time see?

Young girls with heavy make-up – red lips and strong pencil – which makes them look older, they wear clothes that are disconnected from each other and from the modern time, a métissage of materials and patterns, elements that combined together recall the style of Yves Saint Laurent’s friend, Paloma Picasso: wide-shouldered jackets reminiscent of men’s cuts, crepe de chine blouses, dresses with small puff sleeves and “V” necklines, artificially colored furs, knee lengths, shoes with prominent plateaus and fake flowers.

The French press attacks the designer because he relives the days of the Second World War in those garments and accessories. “This fashion has nothing to do with elegance. Initially we thought of one of the usual gags of the designer, then we realized that this was not the case: these excesses are wanted, sad and demoralizing“writes journalist Aline Mosby.

© Yves Saint Laurent 1971 the collection du Scandale – Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris – Fondation Pierre Bergé

It is a young Anjelica Huston to be photographed by Bob Richardson for Vogue Italy, in June 1971 (cover photo), wearing Yves Saint Laurent’s most scandalous collection: prominent drapery, plastic flowers, sequin knots and gathered sleeves peep into the glossy magazine while the actress smokes a cigarette with a mouthpiece. The 1971 show is scandalous because it brings the past back to life, the horror of the Nazi occupation: the press sees a decadent future in those allusions to the past, creativity is not surprising for what’s this new but for something already seen (or experienced). To all intents and purposes it represents the first vintage look in the history of fashion. Here his ability to forecast lies in one of his greatest failures which, 50 years later, seems more contemporary than ever.

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