Evening dress

Design House Yves Saint Laurent French
Designer Yves Saint Laurent French, born Algeria

Not on view

In the early 1980s, when Diana Vreeland sought to represent the best of contemporary haute couture in the galleries of The Costume Institute, she selected the house of Yves Saint Laurent as the focus of her ground-breaking exhibition at the Metropolitan on the work of a living designer. As a master of the traditions of haute couture, Saint Laurent simply had no equal. For a time and for many women of elegance, including Mrs. Kempner, the Saint Laurent style surpassed all others as their source of unwaveringly elegant and technically refined clothes for day and night. During more than forty years Mrs. Kempner acquired almost six hundred examples of this master's work. Although she clearly had an affinity for Saint Laurent's man-tailored designs, especially "Le Smoking"-his version of a tuxedo for women-and his pant suits, she was equally seduced by his sensuous dresses for evening. Saint Laurent's mastery of drapery is evident in Mrs. Kempner's choices-whether in chiffon, satin, or silk crepe. Her gowns include a number that represent the designer's famously sensitive, but audacious, use of color. The Saint Laurent palette has been compared to the vivid hues of a Matisse painting and a Diaghilev ballet, but they are on closer study, distinctly the designer's own.

Evening dress, Yves Saint Laurent (French, founded 1961), a,b) silk, French

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