Exhibit, lecturehighlight French designer’s career

Emily Rasinski

Andrew Danals explains a garment designed by Yves Saint Laurent to Clarissa Westmeyer at the Kent State University Museum.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Jane Kirchner of Aurora remembers when fashion label Dior hired 19-year-old Yves Saint Laurent 50 years ago. Kirchner was a teenager herself when she read about it in the newspaper.

Jean Druesedow, University Museum director, spoke last night in the Rockwell Hall auditorium about the life and career of French fashion designer Laurent as part of the Third Thursday Lecture Series.

“Dior was the big name in the 1950s after World War II and fashion became really big,” said Kirchner, who attended the lecture last night. “Everything was very army before, just ordinary.”

“It was very exciting,” she said of Laurent’s achievements. “He was really young.”

According to Druesedow, Laurent is considered to be one of the best designers of the 20th century.

“His craftsmanship is extraordinary,” Druesedow said. “Combined with his design imagination and quality of construction, his work is without equal. His imagination never seemed to run out.”

Druesedow’s lecture corresponded with an exhibit of Laurent’s work, which will be on display at the University Museum until November 2005 and includes a variety of garments from Laurent’s 40 year career.

Laurent’s innovative sense of style not only had an impact on fashion, but it also led to some social changes, such as pantsuits becoming acceptable for women to wear in public.

“When it was first introduced, women couldn’t wear pants in restaurants,” Druesedow said. “When I started college, you couldn’t wear pants to class. It was the time.”

Laurent redesigned the male pantsuit to be considered acceptable for women to wear to work. Druesedow said Laurent was not the first to do this, but he took it one step further with his careful attention to detail and lines.

“Women in the business world could now feel as comfortable and beautiful as their male counterparts,” she said of his designs.

Many of Laurent’s suit designs are on display in the exhibit, along with other well-known pieces of his work including his first design for Dior, Soirée de Paris from 1955. This dress was made famous by a photo that appeared in Harper’s Bazaar magazine. The same dress on display was once owned by actress Marlene Dietrich.

Other collections of Laurent’s work on display include his fantasy collection, based on the Russian Ballet, and his little black cocktail dress collection.

Contact Fine and Professional Arts reporter Emily Rasinski at [email protected].