Yves Saint Laurent (French (born Algeria) Oran 1936–2008 Paris)
silk, metallic thread, glass, plastic
Length: 41 3/4 in. (106 cm)
Gift of Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, 1977
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 961
Creating the trapeze silhouette for Dior, Saint Laurent has a rigid understructure veiled under a fly-away cage. A boned corset anchors the dress but allows the delusion of a free swinging cone. Seeking a shape for independence, though still tethered, the "Eléphant Blanc" dress also employs a shimmering embroidery on net that requires a finishing flourish to the thread work on a transparent surface. Thus, in both surface decoration and in structure, Saint Laurent gained the effect of ethereal, bouyant freedom while retaining the structure of the couture. From the earliest works at the house of Dior through the designer's accomplishments in his own house, Saint Laurent has practiced and perfected this modernist wielding of couture construction and proficiency to seem wholly unfettered.