Is there yet more to be discovered about the work of Yves Saint Laurent? At any rate, the Paris museum’s new presentation is an ideal occasion to take a close look at the sculpture-dresses he produced with Claude Lalanne.
Today it’s hard to imagine, but in the Fifties and Sixties, Yves Saint Laurent didn’t design the jewelry for his fashion shows; he chose them from pieces by accredited costume jewelry makers like Robert Goossens and Roger Scemama. But for the 1969 fall/winter haute couture collection, he called on Claude Lalanne.
YSL x Claude Lalanne
The couturier discovered the work of the Lalannes in the Sixties, and was charmed by an artistic style imbued with Surrealism, mental gymnastics and endless trompe l’œil effects. In 1965 he began commissioning pieces for his Rue de Babylone apartment, including a small flock of “Moutons” and a set of mirrors with intertwining branches. Talking of Claude Lalanne’s work, he said, “What I find so appealing is that she combines craftsmanship and poetry with the same standards of excellence. Her beautiful sculptor’s hands seem to part the mists of mystery to attain the shores of art.”
“Les robes Lalanne”
Though he paid tribute to many artists (including Mondrian, Picasso, Van Gogh and Matisse), Claude Lalanne was the only one he actually collaborated with. And what a collaboration! She made plaster molds of the model Veruschka’s body – bust, torso and belly – and had them cast in galvanized copper. He then incorporated these polymorphic sculptures into two dresses made of floating blue and black crepe voile… Strikingly new. In this way, the couturier developed his beloved “hiding in plain sight” theme already explored with the “see-through” blouse.
A collaboration lasting till the Eighties
These dresses were never sold, but they made a big splash and marked the start of a partnership. The next year, Claude Lalanne produced some gilt bronze articulated torcs with lips as the centerpiece – those of Yves Saint Laurent. She also designed turban ornaments, necklaces, tiaras sporting butterflies, hydrangea flowers, cabbage leaves, and more.
All these pieces are now part of the history of fashion and jewelry, and essential viewing…
At the Musée Yves Saint Laurent from 12th February to 31st December 2019