Mondrian!

January 9, 2012 § 11 Comments

Yves Saint Laurent sketch of Mondrian and Pop-art dresses

Image via Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent.

Yves Saint Laurent’s Fall/Winter 1965 collection, inspired by the abstract paintings of Piet Mondrian and Serge Poliakoff, included one of the most iconic garments of the twentieth century: the ‘Mondrian’ dress. David Bailey photographed the multicolour Mondrian dress for the cover of Vogue Paris’ 1965 September issue, and Saint Laurent’s Mondrian designs spawned countless knockoffs, including sewing patterns and knitting patterns. Today, Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian dresses may be viewed in museum collections such as those of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. (On the construction of the Mondrian dress and on fashion inspired by modern art, see the posts by Couture Allure and oh mighty!)

Mondrian dress, Vogue Paris, September 1965

Vogue Paris, September 1965. Photo: David Bailey. Image via Rachel Wells on tumblr.

In early 1966, Vogue Patterns introduced Yves Saint Laurent with five pieces from the “Mondrian et Poliakoff” collection. The designs were photographed in mid-century splendour at Knoll International, Paris by Richard Dormer. The first page of the Vogue Pattern Book editorial shows model Merle Lynn standing before a 1954 Florence Knoll lounge chair:

1960s Yves Saint Laurent shift dress Vogue 1556 photo Vogue Pattern Book

Vogue 1556 by Yves Saint Laurent. Vogue Pattern Book, February/March 1966. Model: Merle Lynn. Photo: Richard Dormer.

Vogue Patterns chose a simple, red-accented Mondrian dress for the highly sought-after Vogue 1557:

1960s Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian dress photo in Vogue Pattern Book

Vogue 1557 by Yves Saint Laurent. Vogue Pattern Book, February/March 1966. Photo: Richard Dormer.

The photos of Vogue 1567, a dress and coat, show a 1955 Tulip Chair by Eero Saarinen (hair by Alexandre of Paris):

1960s Yves Saint Laurent dress Vogue Pattern Book

Vogue 1567 by Yves Saint Laurent. Vogue Pattern Book, February/March 1966. Model: Merle Lynn. Photo: Richard Dormer.

And the last page of the editorial shows what looks like one of Knoll’s signature textile wall panels:

1960s Yves Saint Laurent suits Vogue Pattern Book

Vogue 1569 and 1571 by Yves Saint Laurent. Vogue Pattern Book, February/March 1966. Photos: Richard Dormer.

The pattern envelopes show different, colour images from Dormer’s shoot. Here is Vogue 1557 (see Paco Peralta’s blog posts here and here for more images):

Vogue 1557 Yves Saint Laurent Mondrian dress pattern

Vogue 1557 by Yves Saint Laurent (1966) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The description reads: One-piece dress. Sleeveless shift has narrow, contrasting inserts around the hem, down center back, and crossing high in front to create a yoke.

Richard Avedon photographed Jean Shrimpton in this Mondrian dress for his final issue at Harper’s Bazaar:

Mondrian dress in Harper's Bazaar October 1965 Jean Shrimpton Richard Avedon

Harper’s Bazaar, October 1965. Model: Jean Shrimpton. Photo: Richard Avedon. Image via ‘jean shrimpton’ on tumblr.

Irving Penn photographed Veruschka in the same dress for Vogue U.K. (via Magdorable; see her recent post for more photos):

Veruschka in Mondrian dress Irving Penn Vogue U.K. Sept 1965

Vogue U.K., September 1965. Model: Veruschka. Photo: Irving Penn.

You can see a photo of Veronica Hamel in the same dress here. (Thanks to Paco Peralta for alerting me to these last two images.)

The Vogue 1567 envelope gives a better view of the Tulip Chair:

Vogue 1567 1960s Yves Saint Laurent dress and coat

Vogue 1567 by Yves Saint Laurent (1966) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

Here’s the description: One-Piece Dress and Coat. High-waisted dress has contrasting bodice with high band collar, a button-trimmed inset, and sleeve banding to match gathered skirt. Self belt. Long sleeved, double-breasted coat with yoke seam has wide, button-trimmed belt and pockets in seams. Trim stitching.

And the bold teal of the wall panel may be seen on Vogue 1569 (I haven’t been able to find a pattern image for the fifth pattern, Vogue 1571):

Vogue 1569 1960s suit and blouse pattern by Yves Saint Laurent

Vogue 1569 by Yves Saint Laurent (1966) Image via the Vintage Patterns Wiki.

The description reads: Suit and Blouse. Long sleeved, slightly fitted jacket has wide hem band and optional purchased or self belt. Trim stitching. Tuck-in blouse has high shaped neckline, squared-off armholes, and welt pockets. Gathered skirt has pockets in seams and optional purchased or self belt.

Vogue 1557 and 1569 were both featured on the cover of the Vogue Patterns counter catalogue (photos via eBay):

Vogue Pattern Catalog February 1966 Mondrian dress Yves Saint Laurent

Illustrations of Vogue 1557 were also commissioned for the monthly Vogue Pattern Fashion News (more illustration scans posted by Damn Good Vintage—click the image for the post):

Vogue Pattern Fashion News February 1966

Vogue Pattern Fashion News, February 1966. Image via the Vintage Goddess blog.

Although Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian collection was inspired by modern art, Vogue Patterns’ editorial at Knoll situates pieces from the collection in the context of modern design. The editorial is interesting, both for how it frames the designer’s garments and how it ignores his celebrity. The designer’s name is prominent on the news booklet and first counter catalogue—arguably more overtly promotional publications. But the name Yves Saint Laurent is not included on the magazine’s cover or even mentioned in the Editor’s letter; there’s no photo, no bio like those we see in later decades. The emphasis is firmly on the designs and their place in contemporary visual culture.

Next: My version of Vogue 1556.

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