Thursday, May 19, 2011

It all Started With a Sketch

We are all so familiar with the work of Yves Saint Laurent, that it has almost become part of fashion’s vernacular. Saint Laurent was one of the shining stars of Haute Couture in the twentieth century and it all began with a sketch.

In 1953, Saint Laurent submitted three sketches to a contest for young fashion designers, organized by the International Wool Secretariat. He won third place and was invited to attend the awards ceremony in Paris, in December of that year. While he and his mother were in Paris, they met Michel de Brunhoff, editor-in-chief of the Paris edition of Vogue magazine. de Brunhoff, was impressed by the sketches Saint Laurent brought with him and suggested he become a fashion designer.

Saint Laurent then pursued a course of study at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Again, Saint Laurent entered the International Wool Secretariat competition and this time won, beating out his friend Fernando Sanchez and a young German student named Karl Lagerfeld.] Shortly after his win, he brought a number of sketches to de Brunhoff who recognized in them close similarities to sketches he had been shown that morning by Christian Dior. Knowing that Dior had created the sketches that morning and that the young man could not have seen them, de Brunhoff sent him to Dior, who hired him on the spot.

I love fashion sketches as they are the germination of a couturier’s ideas into fully fledged collections. Saint Laurent was a prolific sketcher with him turning out 100’s of sketches per collection.

From even the most preliminary sketches his are easily recognisable with the finished product. The line and feel of each garment is perfectly represented by his sketches.

How I would love to have some of these and frame them as art, as this is what they are art. In this age of computer generated graphics and designs, these are a welcome relief that breathe life and savoir faire into the designer’s craft.

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