Yves Saint Laurent's Knit Bridal Gown: A Famously Bizarre Fuzzy Cocoon
French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent was known for pushing the envelope with the styles he created under his brand beginning in the 1960s. One thing he enjoyed doing was looking for fashion inspiration outside of Paris, even outside of Europe. In 1965, he took inspiration from the iconic Russian nesting dolls to design a wedding gown that still has people talking today. Unfortunately, it's for all the wrong reasons. For such a well-respected and influential fashion designer, most of the world believes that Yves Saint Laurent missed the mark with his knit bridal gown of 1965. Let's take a closer look at this crime of fashion.
A Fashion Prodigy
As a child and teen, Yves Saint Laurent designed dresses for his mother and sisters. In 1953, he decided to enter three of his designs in a fashion contest sponsored by International Wool Secretariat and surprised everybody when he won. When he traveled to Paris to collect his prize, he was persuaded to stay in the city to pursue a career as a fashion designer. He soon went to work for Christian Dior, and upon Dior's untimely death, he became the head designer of the Dior label at only 21 years old. When he was drafted to serve in the French army, the Dior company used the opportunity to fire Yves Saint Laurent following a lackluster 1960 season. When he returned from active duty, he had a decision to make about his future.
Creating a Brand
In 1961, Yves Saint Laurent founded his only fashion design company and began to release his haute couture collections under his own label. The 1960s were a time of radical changes in women's fashions, and Yves Saint Laurent found himself at the front of the movement. He pushed to create wearable fashions that combined the haute couture look with comfort and practicality. His collections were a hit, but he still yearned to push the style envelope with unique and unusual designs.
Homage to Mondrian
Yves Saint Laurent’s 1965 collection was called his Homage to Mondrian Collection. In it, he created dresses that were influenced by the paintings of Piet Mondrian, but he also included pieces that took inspiration from outside of Europe.
An Odd Bridal Gown
When Yves Saint Laurent presented his new collection at that season's runway show, he chose to close the event with what he considered to be his masterpiece: a knit wedding dress that was inspired by Russian nesting dolls. The gown was hand-knit with ivory silk ribbons in the iconic oval shape of the dolls. Only the model's face poked out of the dress.
Russian Nesting Dolls
Matryoshka dolls, also known as Russian nesting dolls, are sets of wooden dolls, all the same shape but different sizes, that fit inside each other. A common symbol of Russia since the first nesting dolls were carved in 1890, the nesting dolls have a distinctive shape that Yves Saint Laurent tried to capture in his wedding gown.
A Knit Cocoon
Yves Saint Laurent’s knit bridal gown did not go on to revolutionize the wedding industry, but it did cause other designers to rethink what they considered to be acceptable sources of inspiration. This wedding gown still appears on lists of the most iconic wedding gowns, as well as lists of ugliest wedding dresses. You be the judge: Did Yves Saint Laurent soar to new heights with this bridal gown? Or did he lay a dud?
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