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Imagine walking into a chic restaurant and being told that you have to leave because you are wearing pants. Sound strange? In 1963, it happened to women all the time.
Have you ever thought about the reasons why certain clothes are socially acceptable while others aren't? There are lots of reasons. The legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent is one of them.
The end of an era
Saint Laurent got his big break when he was only 17 years old. The shy young designer began to work for fashion legend, Christian Dior, and by the time he was 21 years old, Saint Laurent was in charge of Dior's empire.
He immediately started to develop a unique style that combined Dior's elegance and tradition with a more wearable, realistic style.
Saint Laurent struck out on his own in 1961, opening his own fashion house where he created haute couture for socialites and celebrities. Haute couture (which literally means "high sewing" in French) is a term for the fashion houses and designers that create exclusive, trend-setting styles.
The people who wear haute couture don't go to a store and pick clothing off a rack. Instead, they go to a studio (called an atelier in the Parisian fashion world) and meet with the designer.
The designer works with the customer to create a piece of clothing exactly suited to their proportions. The result is a piece that is one of a kind, and costs thousands of dollars.
The inspiration for Saint Laurent's clothing came from cultures across the globe. An important source of inspiration for both his clothing and his choice of runway models was his childhood in Africa. He was also the first major designer to use models from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds.
from his haute couture clothing, he offered another clothing line for
women available in department stores. The designs from this line often
turned heads and changed the lives of the women who wore them.
In the 1960s and 1970s, when women were joining the workforce in millions for the first time, Saint Laurent designed more gender-neutral looks based on pants and jackets. No longer did women feel like they needed to wear only skirts and blouses.
The change was met with resistance. There are famous stories of women wearing Saint Laurent's pantsuits who were turned away from hotels and restaurants in London and New York.
On more than one occasion, women wearing Yves Saint Laurent's pantsuits would simply take off their pants and walk into the restaurant wearing only the jacket part of the suit! They were protesting the fact that other people could dictate what they were allowed to wear.
Another clothing item of his that became popular was a jacket called "le smoking," which is a square-shouldered tuxedo for women.
When the jacket first appeared in his 1966 fall-winter collection, it immediately became a groundbreaking landmark in fashion history because it blurred the lines between traditional male and female style.
For the first time,
women had the choice of whether to project a "feminine" or
Saint Laurent also
aided the women's liberation movement by challenging other socially
The new wave of fashion
Because his styles were so timeless, international fashion continues to reflect looks he created in the 1960s.
Take a look at some of the top up-and-coming young designers whose original designs may change the future of fashion.
What do you think? What are some ways designers of the future might change the way people think about fashion?
-- By Jessica Moore, Online NewsHour
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