December 10, 2017

Polaroid Pictures of YSL’s Decadent Accessories

Featured Image: Yves Saint Laurent and model Amalia backstage at the Spring/Summer 2000 haute couture show, Inter-Continental hotel, Paris, January 2000. © Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, Paris/All Rights Reserved (p.391)

The archives of the Foundation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent in Paris are notoriously confidential. A veritable treasure trove of over 20,000 accessories from the iconic fashion house, they also contain other types of rare materials like sketches, ad campaigns, portraits of Saint Laurent at work, and behind-the-scenes Polaroid photographs. In Yves Saint Laurent Accessories, a new, aptly-titled book by Patrick Mauriès now available from Phaidon, the vestments of this glamorous world are on bold display.

Yves Saint Laurent: Accessories, Patrick Mauriès, Phaidon
Yves Saint Laurent: Accessories, Patrick Mauriès, Phaidon, open at pages 292-293, showing 'Arte Povera' chapter

While the etiquette that informs a lady’s hat, veil, or pair of gloves may have shifted over the course of Saint Laurent’s decades-long career as a designer, the collection curated for this book demonstrates that crystal diamanté drop earrings and spangled brooches add the same amount of dazzle to an ensemble as ever. As Saint Laurent said in 1977, “One can never overstate the importance of accessories. They are what turns a dress into something else. I like dresses to be sober and accessories to be wild.” Instant Polaroid pictures were taken at the end of the production process when the choice of accessories to fit with each design had been finalized. Here is a selection of the pre-catwalk Polaroid photographs which put haute couture adornments centerstage, and meticulously document the essential details. And because Polaroid images develop instantly, they also provided a new perspective, immediately.

Flower earrings in enamelled metal, flower necklace made of enamelled metal and pieces of mother-of-pearl, butterfly brooches made of mother-of-pearl, worn with a long evening outfit, Spring/Summer 1992 haute couture collection. Picture credit: © Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, Paris/All Rights Reserved (p.246)
Ceramic anchor earrings (made by Baschet), worn with a suit, Spring/Summer 1987 haute couture collection. (p.200)
Crystal diamanté brooch in the shape of a bow (made by Sabbagh), worn with a long evening outfit, Autumn/Winter 1986 haute couture collection. (p.268)
Leather pill-box hat and snakeskin and kid gloves, worn with a day outfit, Spring/ Summer 1985 haute couture collection. (p.372)
Bird earrings (p.215; made by Goossens) and brooch (made by Sabbagh), worn with a long evening outfit, Spring/Summer 1988 haute couture collection. (p.214)
Large straw boater, creole earrings made of ribbed wood, wooden heart bracelets, Spring/Summer 1990 haute couture collection. (p.304)

At a time when nothing was Instagrammed or live-Tweeted, the most instant image was a Polaroid photograph. But these candids weren’t taken to be shared with the public. They had a documentarian purpose: Saint Laurent and his team used the images backstage at shows as a visual reference for which accessories went with each design. These photographs were like accessories themselves. Additional, but necessary. A way to take an outfit, and turn it into an event. 

Discover more about Yves Saint Laurent at the newly opened Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris: www.museeyslparis.com.

Heart earrings (p.143) and choker made of grainy-textured silvered metal pierced through with a rock crystal pick (made by Goossens), worn with a suit, Autumn/ Winter 1987 haute couture collection. (p.142)
Ceramic star earrings (made by Cinémarc), worn with a party outfit, Spring/Summer 1992 haute couture collection. (p.190)
Wooden bird earrings (p.211), worn with a day outfit, Spring/Summer 1988 haute couture collection. (p.210)
Metal and diamanté dragonfly brooches (made by Sabbagh) and bracelet (made by Goossens), worn with an evening dress, Spring/Summer 1990 haute couture collection. (p.230)
Plastic bracelets and manchette bracelets, coral and silvered metal rings, worn with an evening dress, Spring/Summer 1985 haute couture collection. (p.386)

Want to gift Yves Saint Laurent Accessories to the bangle lover in your life? Purchase your copy today at www.phaidon.com/yslaccessories. Enter code Polaroid30 at checkout for 30% off or try your luck in our giveaway over on Instagram.