Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s

70sHalston, evening dress, 1974. Courtesy of The Museum at FIT

Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s at FIT

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) presents Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s, an exhibition that celebrates the two designers who defined the sexy and glamorous fashions of the 1970s. This is the first exhibition to juxtapose their work and analyze the way they dealt with similar themes and aesthetics during the height of their careers. Both designers are equally represented by the approximately 80 ensembles and 20 accessories that are arranged thematically in an environment designed to evoke the style of this singular, dynamic era in history.

70sSaint Laurent Rive Gauche, pajama set, 1970. Courtesy of The Museum at FIT

Drawn exclusively from the holdings of The Museum at FIT, the exhibition offers a unique perspective on two of the best-known fashion designers in modern history. The museum’s collections hold the Halston archives – the most comprehensive records of his work in the world – as well as a vast array of significant Yves Saint Laurent pieces donated by important clients, fashion editors, friends, and colleagues of Saint Laurent. These include Lauren Bacall, Marina Schiano, Aimée de Heeren, Mary Russell, and Tina Chow.

70s
Yves Saint Laurent, ensemble, 1977. Courtesy of The Museum at FIT

It is worth noting that the first major retrospective exhibition on Halston was organized at the museum in 1991 by the late curator Richard Martin. The 1970s was a time of momentous change in fashion, not only in the look of clothes but also in the way they were designed, made, distributed, and consumed. This dichotomous decade – sandwiched between the counterculture 1960s and the opulent 1980s – witnessed the demise of haute couture’s majestic reign and the simultaneous ascension of designer – led conglomerates.

70sHalston, dress, 1976. Courtesy of The Museum at FIT

The shifting sands of style during the 1970s accelerated the relaxation of fashion codes. Eclectic individuality blended with a somber modernity that mirrored the dour economic mood of the decade’s early years. Perhaps because the 1970s was a period of such transition and uncertainty, its fashions are among the most challenging in modern fashion history to assess.

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