Yves Saint Laurent (French, born Algeria, 1936–2008)
Yellow silk faille, black silk velvet
Gift of Thomas L. Kempner, 2006 (2006.420.51a, b)
Among the most dramatic pieces from Yves Saint Laurent's fall/winter 1983–84 collection of haute couture is this coat worn over a spare and elegant black gown. In a direct reference to the voluminous evening coats from the golden age of post-World War II haute couture, this Saint Laurent version of heavy silk faille merges the sumptuous romanticism of Christian Dior and the sculptural drama of Cristobal Balenciaga. With its bias collar extending into front ties, the coat may be worn either pulled close to the neck or falling away from the back and shoulders, as was preferred by its owner, Nan Kempner, a perennial presence on the International Best Dressed List.