Yves Saint Laurent and Halston: Fashioning the ‘70s

Gowns and caftan by Halston
Gowns and Caftans by Halston
1970s photo of Halston with Models
Halston with Models in the ’70s

Last week I went to a fascinating exhibition at The Baker Museum in Naples, Florida. Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the ’70s offers a unique perspective on two of the best known fashion designers in modern history, the designers whose work most brilliantly defined and dominated the 1970s and whose influence on today’s fashions is stronger than ever.

On loan from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, the show features 80 ensembles and 20 accessories and jewelry pieces drawn from FIT’s extensive collections of both designers’ clothes. According to the catalog, it is the “first exhibition to analyze and juxtapose the aesthetic developments of the designers at the peaks of their respective careers, from the late 1960s to the early 1980s.”

That Was Then, This Is Now

The exhibition showcases richly embellished gowns and finely constructed pantsuits by Saint Laurent with fluid, seamless, deconstructed caftans and jersey dresses by Halston. Not only was I struck by the beauty of these ‘70s styles, I was astonished by their timelessness.

Le Smoking and Safari Jacket by Yves Saint Laurent
Pantsuits, Le Smoking, and Safari Jacket by Yves Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent’s and Halton’s designs are as modern and wearable today as they were 40 years ago, including: pussycat bow blouses worn with wide trousers and narrow belts; sleeveless leather jerkins over black turtlenecks and peg-legged pants; fur-trimmed capes with cashmere sweaters; and paisley caftans in diaphanous fabrics.

Halston's Ultrasuede Wrap Dress
Halston’s Ultrasuede Wrap Dress is a Classic

Halston’s iconic Utrasuede wrap dress and Saint Laurent’s tuxedo-jacket pantsuit, or “Le Smoking,” are ‘70s styles that fashion editors now recommend as must-haves. The designers’ one-piece velvet jumpsuits and hoodie-style jersey tracksuits prefigured today’s popular athleisure wear.

Elsa Peretti Silver Mesh Bra
Elsa Peretti Silver Mesh Bra for Halston

Elsa Peretti 1970s Jewelry

The vintage jewelry pieces and accessories in the FIT show are minimalist but effective, including a sterling silver bottle necklace and a black leather belt with a silver horseshoe buckle, both by Elsa Peretti for Tiffany & Co.

Elsa Peretti Sterling Silver accessories
Elsa Peretti was a model and muse for Halston before launching her jewelry line for Tiffany & Co. in 1974.
Today, her vintage pieces are sought-after collectibles.

A silver mesh bra, also by Peretti, peeks out from a silk charmeuse blouse tucked in gabardine trousers. It’s a look that could grace the cover of Vogue today.

Don’t Miss It

If you’ve ever wondered what fuels fashion’s enduring love affair with the 1970s, you have only to view the work of the decade’s premier designers side by side to understand.

Floridians, vacationers and snowbirds: plan a trip to Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the ‘70s in Naples. You’ll be glad you did!

Yves Saint Laurent with Model
Yves Saint Laurent with Models in the ’70s. Photo Courtesy of TheZoeReport.com

“Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the ‘70s,” organized by The Museum at FIT, through March 6 at The Baker Museum, Artis—Naples, 5833 Pelican Bay Boulevard, Naples, FL, 34108; artisnaples.org; 239-597-1900

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