Yves Saint Laurent knew a clean, classic silhouette and a clean, classic shoe. He knew funky too, of course, he just knew when to be simple.
I went to the YSL exhibit at the de Young Museum this week and nearly had to close my eyes as a brief respite from the overwhelming visual feast. This is the only stop in the U.S., so if you can, please go to the de Young for this fantastic exhibit.
Of course, I was on the lookout for the best shoes at the exhibit. This 1992 silk cocktail dress with its teaspot earrings and black and white crepe shoes was a stunner. I soaked in the negative space of the shoes as much as possible, getting close and letting myself feel sucked in by the white ovals. How can the whole outfit be so loud and yet so elegant, and the shoes be so quiet and yet so fun (and almost teasing, playful, funny)?
Now that over-the-knee boots are back, wouldn’t you like to just traipse around like a woodland hunter-sprite in these thigh boots?
Or how about going completely fearless in these fire engines, matched with a dark magenta, no less?
You could go for this eskimo look with the cordon-wrapped boots while you polish off that tuna nicoise with the ladies who lunch in the Arctic.
In 1965, Vivier’s Pilgrim pumps were paired with YSL’s Mondrian dresses. A fantastic match of geometry.
Most of the YSL shoes in the exhibit were black patent leather, and went incredibly sexily with the YSL tuxedo. (I wish I had photos of them). I love his masculine silhouettes and the strongly feminine, rounded square-toed black patent leather shoes he paired with them. Hamish Bowles said Yves had “impeccable understatement and startling modernity.” This is true, and is so evident in his scores of well-tailored black separates. But the man also put a woman in a matador outfit and heels, a jini in a lamp gold lame gown with leather and rhinestone pumps – why couldn’t he have lived forever to have outfitted the 22nd century woman?
You changed the way women entering the workforce in the 60s dress by offering them pants. You paved the way for the existence of style rebels like Nan Kempner, who, when rejected from a restaurant for wearing one of your pantsuits, simply unzipped the pants and wore her tunic as a minidress.
“Nothing is so beautiful on a woman as the arms of a man she loves. But not all women are so blessed. Those women have me.”
Here’s to you, Yves, and your shoes, classic, refined and thoroughly modern at the same time.