The Mondrian Collection was designed by French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent (1936–2008) in 1965.[1] This collection was a homage to the work of several modernistic artists.[1] Part of this collection were six cocktail dresses that were inspired by the paintings of Piet Mondrian (1872–1944).[1] Because these six shift dresses[2] played a major role in this collection, the collection is called the Mondrian Collection.[1] In academic literature it has been questioned whether this name fully covers the aim of the collection, since there are other artists who inspired Saint Laurent such as Poliakoff and Malevich.[1] However, Mondrian seemed to play a leading role in this collection. The dresses were famously accessorized with low-heeled, black pumps with large, geometric-looking metallic buckles across the vamp, produced by Roger Vivier.[3]

Mondrian dresses by Yves St Laurent (1966)

Design and construction edit

1965 Mondrian dress by Saint Laurent, Rijksmuseum

The six wool jersey and silk A-line Mondrian dresses comprised graphic black lines and blocks of white and primary colour, directly referencing the work of Mondrian.[4][5][6] Rather than being printed, the dresses were made of pre-dyed fabrics, each colour in their design being an individual piece of fabric.[5] Saint Laurent experimented with the interplay of lines by integrating them in the seams of the garment and giving a seemingly seam-free construction.[7] The weight of the fabrics used ensured that the dresses hung straight, without draping or movement to distort the simplicity of the effect—features that enhanced the Modernism theme of the designs.[5] In interviews Saint Laurent acknowledged that Mondrian inspired him to focus on simple dresses with minimal decoration.[1][8] Although the overall effect appeared simple, the technique was complex and required precision cutting and work-intensive haute couture techniques to achieve successfully, making the dresses expensive.[7]

Precedents edit

Although Saint Laurent's Mondrian dresses were very successful, it was noted that several other designers had produced very similar works beforehand. In 1965, a New York reporter noted that the Mondrian dresses closely resembled two-colour jersey dresses that had already been produced and widely retailed by the French designer Michèle Rosier.[9] The New York Times claimed that the effect of the Mondrian dresses had been achieved two years previously by the American designer John Kloss.[10]

Convergence of fashion and art edit

The convergence of fashion and art in the Mondrian dresses is significant.[11] Whilst reflecting the fashionable Western silhouette, the designs also reflect the significance of the work of artists like Mondrian during the 1960s.[12] The abstract, geometric visual language of the modernistic Dutch movement De Stijl to which Mondrian belonged was applied to the design of the six dresses.[12]

Saint Laurent was known for his love of fine art,[7] and had an extensive collection covering a wide range of periods and styles which had important influence on his work.[8] He said of Mondrian: ‘Mondrian is purity and one can go no further in purity in painting. This is a purity that joins with that of the Bauhaus. The masterpiece of the twentieth century is a Mondrian’.[13] The dresses have been described as a canvas on which Saint Laurent experimented with his artistic ideas,[14] and have become regarded as having captured the Zeitgest of their era.[13] As icons of 1965 fashion the dresses have been described as giving a new perspective on haute couture—namely that it didn't have to consist of a total look any more, and that it could be easy to wear.[8]

Popularity edit

The Mondrian collection was widely published in many fashion magazines, with one dress featuring on the cover of Vogue in 1965.[15] Mondrian style dresses became very popular, with many mass manufacturers producing copies of the designs for lower prices, which were then widely circulated.[7] The copying was so widespread that Saint Laurent became a little disenchanted with this collection during the peak of its success, saying at one point, "I hate Mondrian now."[16]

In museums edit

The original Mondrian dresses can be found in several museums around the world, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam,[12] the Victoria and Albert Museum in London,[6] and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.[2]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f Hohé 2011
  2. ^ a b "Dress, fall/winter 1965-66, Yves Saint Laurent". The Met Collection. As the sack dress evolved in the 1960s into a modified form, the shift, Saint Laurent realized that the dress's planarity was an ideal field for color blocks.
  3. ^ "Homage to Piet Mondrian". Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris. Retrieved 11 January 2022. For this collection, Saint Laurent sketched a series of shoes that were made by the designer Roger Vivier: black pumps decorated with a large square buckle in gold or silver metal.
  4. ^ "Couture: Iconic YSL creations". Foundation Pierre Berge – Yves Saint Laurent. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Cohn, Hana (4 April 2013). "The 50 Best Artist Collaborations in Fashion: 47. Yves Saint Laurent x Piet Mondrian". Complex. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Cocktail dress, "The Mondrian collection," Yves Saint Laurent, 1965". Victoria and Albert Museum. Archived from the original on 20 October 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d Hohé 2011, p. 138
  8. ^ a b c Bergé 2008, p. 21
  9. ^ "Parisienne Pioneers Pop Style". The Montreal Gazette. 14 September 1965. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  10. ^ "Dress, John Kloss, about 1966". Victoria and Albert Museum. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  11. ^ Kim 1998, p. 55
  12. ^ a b c "Mondriaanjurk, Yves Saint Laurent, Abraham, Bianchini-Férier, 1965". Rijksmuseum (in Dutch). Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  13. ^ a b Bergé 2008, p. 168
  14. ^ Kim 1998, p. 57
  15. ^ Mode & Kunst. Zwolle: Wbooks. 2011. p. 142.
  16. ^ Taylor, Angela (12 November 1965). "'I Hate Mondrian Now,' St. Laurent Says". The New York Times: 53. 'I hate Mondrian now,' he said....[He] has seen numberless cheap copies of his famous Mondrian-inspired dresses...[I]t is a love-hate relationship.

Bibliography edit