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.
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.
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.
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.