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Yves Saint Laurent 1971 exhibition to open in Paris

The ‘Forties’ collection was one of the designer’s most controversial as it was inspired by the fashion during the war years and received much criticism from the press. However, the spring-summer haute couture garments that were released in 1971 soon conquered the streets and saw the retro trend swiftly return.

Director of the Palais Galliera fashion museum, Olivier Saillard has curated the exhibition, which includes 40 outfits alongside a number of accessories, sketches and film footage of the catwalk shows. Those in Paris on a river cruise in Europe attending ‘The Scandal Collection’ can also browse through magazine spreads, such as those by Helmut Newton, and can gain an insight into “the beginning of contemporary fashion history”, as described by Saillard in an article by Women’s Wear Daily.

The exhibition is the first to be totally devoted to an entire collection

Originally featuring 80 styles in total, the collection was shown to a mix of clients and editors at Saint Laurent’s former headquarters, with an aim to make forties fashion appear elegant. Due to its references to a dark period in history during the Nazi Occupation of Paris in World War II, the collection received a backlash from the media with damning headlines such as “Yves Saint Laurent Reviews World War II ‘Floozy Look” and “Saint-Laurent: Truly Hideous”.

Yves Saint Laurent hit back at the press, explaining that the trend was not glamorising the historic era, but instead paying homage to the freedom of the women who lived throughout the war. He was quoted by French Elle stating, “I prefer to shock rather than to bore through repetition,” which is certainly what this collection managed to do, while also being the initial inspiration for street style.

Image Credit: Victor Soto (

This content was written by Angela Sloan. Please feel free to visit my Google+ Profile to read more stories.