Did you love the way your mother looked in the 1940s? If you did, you are in luck - because Yves Saint Laurent, clearly the strongest influence out of Paris, has designed a collection of haute glamour clothes for fall with roots in the Joan Crawford, grand-entrance era.
Actually, YSL was on this kick in earlier collections, and now he's changed the silhouette slightly, injected bright colors and cleared the way for a fashion change that may get women out from under loose clothes into a far slimmer look.
YSL is not alone. Several other designers, including Marc Bohan at Dior, Givenchy and Jean Louis Scherrer are in the same mood this season. But YSL does it with more variety, more colors, more style and even more whimsy.
"I've changed everything," Saint Laurent said in an interview a few days before his showing, which according to one wire-service report brought great cheers from the audience. "The silhouette has moved close to the body. It's a straight line, but the woman can breathe. The color is intense. The fabrics are always mixed in one ensemble. Everything is provocative but femininely alluring. Every tailleur (suit) is one or more colors. And skirts are short," YSL told Andre Talley of Womens' Wear Daily.
By short, YSL means 16 1/2 inches from the floor - a couple of inches below the knee - when you are wearing three-inch heels. That seems short if you've been wearing your skirt below the calf. And it's short because with pencil-slim skirts, anything longer would inhibit walking.
Most of YSL's jackets have big shoulders (though he insists that they are smaller than a season ago) and a fitted shape. Some are hip-length; others, bolero-shaped, and a few three-quarter length straight jackets showed over skirts and evening dresses.
Nothing bashful about the colors or fabrics here. While black is a major theme throughout all the Paris collections this round, at YSL hats and gloves are in bright colors. Occassionally the jackets are, too. Fabrics include taffetas, brocades, eyelash fringe, a lot of lace, even sequined lace.
"It is totally passe for a couturier to make something too grand and dull," says YSL. "Gaiety, humor and provocation is today. Humor is the vital element. My message is humor combined with total refinement."
When the clothes come into the stores, we'll see who has the last laugh.