Yves Saint Laurent Inspired by Piet Mondrian 1965

Two iconic men’s visions came together in 1965 when Yves Saint Laurent decided to create six sack dresses that incorporated work by Piet Mondrian. Mondrian was a Dutch artist who painted with many different styles throughout his life and, at the end of his career, took an interest in lines. This interest came from him dismantling the idea of a painting and he began to use simple lines in abstract ways. The paintings he created, using this new style, were what inspired Laurent.

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Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Grey and Blue, 1921 By Piet Mondrian 

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Composition with Red, Yellow and Blue, 1927 By Piet Mondrian 

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Sketch of a dress for Yves Saint Laurent’s 1965 Mondrian Collection

There was no mistaking Mondrian’s influence on the geometric dresses that were a part of Laurent’s fall collection. They were made to be renditions of his red, blue and yellow compositions and turned out to be just that. The six pieces were the only looks in the collection that portrayed Mondrian’s work but the entire collection was given Mondrian’s name.

Photographs of Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian Collection

As the title Mondrian Collection makes clear, the looks were created to pay homage to the artist but what many may not know is that the pieces were a last minute decision. Laurent had been short on inspiration and looking at a Piet Mondrian book, his mom had given him for Christmas, turned things around for him. Speaking of before his spark of creativeness he said, “Nothing was alive, nothing was modern in my mind except an evening gown I had embroidered with paillettes like a Poliakoff painting.” It’s a good thing his mom gifted him that book because the idea of the collection was then brought to life.

Each piece was made of wool jersey material and constructed with no visible seams. This was done in order to stay true to the cohesiveness of a canvas. The creativeness of the collection’s construction didn’t stop there. The patterns of the dresses may look like prints but they were actually made by different colored fabrics being laid on top of one another. Parts of this fabric were then cut away to expose different colors underneath.

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Dresses from the Mondrian Collection in the Yves Saint Laurent Archive

The dresses that came from this technique were applauded by the international press and made it into many magazines. Most notably, French Vogue’s 1965 September issue. Oh yeah, and it was on the cover! For Vogue, their September issue is always the largest and definitely thought of as the most important issue of the year.

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Cover of French Vogue’s September issue, 1965

The look that was seen on the cover, and praised by many, included black shoes with a low block heel. Laurent sketched these shoes for the sack dresses knowing that they would complete the task of paying homage to Mondrian. He incorporated a large, square buckle on the front of them to play into the geometric patterns of the dresses and it was Rogier Vivier that he worked with in order to have the shoes made. Vivier was a very notable shoe designer who, in 1953, designed shoes for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation. To put it lightly he was definitely suitable for the job.

The Rogier Vivier Mondrian Collection shoe

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The Rogier Vivier Mondrian Collection shoe, which Catherine Deneuve wore in the 1967 film Belle de Jour

The leather shoes proved to pair perfectly with Laurent’s sack dresses, which, being works of art themselves, have been showcased around the world. I’m sure they will make an appearance again. No doubt dazzling those who get to view them.