Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Phoned Home

Perhaps only those who are fashioned obsessed would be saddened by the news of Yves Saint Laurent's death two days ago. Still, if you are a working woman between the ages of, say, 20 and dead, you can bet his work touched your life in one shape or another.

What Halston was to the dizzy disco queen, Saint Laurent was to the working career woman. He burst onto the Paris haute couture scene at the astonishing age of 19 and two years later took over as head of the House of Dior. It was here that he began to create clothing for women that, in his words: " . . . was not only supposed to make women beautiful, but to reassure them, to give them confidence, to allow them to come to terms with themselves."

Today, we take this for granted. In the late 1960s, however, it was revolutionary. Prior to that, designers decorated women. But Saint Laurent saw fashion as a way for women to find their unique sense of self. Unlike some designers, who went out of their way to create ever more outrageous, unwearable outfits in a continual loop of the Emporer's New Clothes, Saint Laurent never once made a joke out of his work . "It pains me physically," he once said, "to see a woman victimized, rendered pathetic, by fashion."

Hence, his first collection for Dior, anchored by the trapeze-shaped shift dress, was all about freedom and ease of wear. That shift remains a working girl's fashion staple to this day. So does the evening suit, whose legacy lies in the designer's famous Smoking Suit, a looser, less angular reinterpretation of the butch-ish silhouette made famous by Marlene Dietrich that suddenly provided savvy women everywhere with an alternative to the Little Black Dress. And can you remember a time when the safari style jacket (ah-hem, Old Navy Spring 2008), peasant blouse, or Palazzo pants have NOT been in style? All Saint Laurent.

(Look – I just found this: my tres chic mother, Saint Laurent-ized! Pay no attention to the fashion disaster with the skinned knee. And we won't even go there with my brother in his Lederhosen.)

* * *

Bo Diddley's death yesterday from heart failure is no less tragic a loss. What Saint Laurent was to fashion, Diddley was to music, a bridge between the blues and rock and roll, inventor of the harder-edged, more driving rhythms that would form the backbone of this new style. Listen to "Who Do You Love," which he wrote in 1956, and you'll hear the revolution coming - not to mention some of the baddest-ass lyrics in all of rock and roll.

Diddley also lived for years right here in the Land of Enchantment. From 1971 to 1978 he was a happy denizen of Los Lunas, where he also served for nearly three years as Valencia County's Deputy Sheriff. During this time he not only continued to make music, but was instrumental in bolstering the financially strapped county's law enforcement efforts, his largest contribution being three highway patrol cars he purchased with his own funds.

RIP to you both.


The Troll said...

Here's a little story that I really want to tell
It's about Bo Diddley at the O.K Corral
Now, Bo Diddley didn't start no mess
He had a gun on his hip and a rose on his vest

'Cause Bo Diddley's a gunslinger

Warren Zevon's version of the tune above rocks, but it's a tad hard to find.

EmmaK said...

"It pains me physically," he once said, "to see a woman victimized, rendered pathetic, by fashion."
was he having a laugh? 'Fashion' victimizes everyone because no one can look as good as the models. I think I need to move somewhere communist where everyone wears boilersuits ;)

moi said...

Troll: iTunes? RIP Zevon, too.

Emma: The models are a joke. Fun, functional clothing isn't. What's a boilersuit? It sounds like it might be a little stuffy for Havana. I mean, you gonna go Commie, may as well have nice beaches, right?

Anonymous Boxer said...

I was thinking you were due for a Fashion Post, but this is even better... it's more like "Fashion History 101" with a little music tossed in.

I had no idea of the contribution ESL made to "real" clothes for real woman. I bow down to him for giving us the Evening Suit... one of my most favorite things to wear when I have the chance.

I also had no idea that you and I suffered the same "Pixie" haircuts and bruised knees as children. :-)

P.S. Your Mom = Hip.

moi said...

AB: That skinned knee was the first in what would become a lifelong trend: moving and falling. As an original, founding member of the Klutzes R Us Club of North America, I have been known to trip over pieces of paper and blades of grass. But never, oddly enough, while in high heels.

Meghan said...

Yeah, we lost some good ones this week.

That said, I can't get over that incredible photo of you, your mom and your bro. Freakin' awesome. (by the way, I updated my last post for you.)

moi said...

Meghan: I saw that. What did I tell ya, can I call 'em or can I call 'em? :o)

The Troll said...

Recipe Contest at the Troll Report Today.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Of course you are right Moi, he was a great deal more than a drug-addled depressive (as per my rather disingenuous posting!).

And a lot more respectful to women than some designers who appeared to take the mickey out of them rather than design clothes to enhance them genuinely.

RIP indeed.

Can't really comment on Bo Diddly as he kind of passed me by in all but name. Sacrilege I know.

Aunty Belle said...

Say it darlin'! My mama wore them trapeze dresses! Bo is a loss--oh my.....but that skinned knee, ouch! (youse cute!!)

she said...

what a great post. i didnt know much about YSL except some vague notion of a pink and black perfume bottle. i do know that i use my perfect fit black suit for night all the time....thanks YSL!

on to bo diddley. a bad ass western sherriff. who knew? i love it. and who do you love still sounds fresh and innovative. i couldnt even begin to address how much that sound is cribbed and reengineered in new music.

"moving and falling" sounds like a band. kinda like driin and cryin. grrherhahaha. instead of a sparkly glove or black face paint, band members would wear band aids on their knees and sport school boy shorts like angus of AC/DC. and plaid.

moi said...

Poet: Well, great stuff has come out of many of our society's drug addled depressives. Shame, though, huh?

Aunty: I did that crossing a street I wasn't supposed to cross to get to a neighbor's yard I wasn't supposed to be in. My mother was always at her wits end with my wandering. I think she even considered putting a bell on me.

She: Laughing, laughing at your last paragraph. Darn, if only I didn't possess a distinct lack of functional musical talent. Ever the professional appreciator . . .

upset waitress said...

OMG, I have been in jail for 3 days. I can't believe Bo-Diddley died? oh man.

Awwww yer so cute.

moi said...

Upset: So they finally nabbed ya? I hope you made a clean kill. Yes, sniffle, sniffle, Bo dead. Sniffle.

Aunty Belle said...

Hey Moi! jes' a fly by--youse MISSED sorely. Hope ya'll is havin' grandest time.