Research Question:

To what extent are Yves Saint Laurent’s women’s wear designs influenced by modern art?

Artists to look at :

Piet Mondrian
Henri Matisse

-cubism (start of modern art) (photography)

-The role of women in society after the war

-Cezanne (founder of modern art) and Picasso influenced by Africa

– Bridget Riley

(op art and pop art)

– SUIT (minimalist, blocks of black and white)

  • not traditional norms – not realistic
  • Impressionism, cubism
  • breaking tradition, rebellion
  • breaking away from formality
  • WAR (WWI and II)

Action Planning (including effective research strategies)

  • Public Library
  • LRC
  • Websites: check last edit date for relevance

Researcher’s Reflection Space (RSS) 

Preliminary research (January 2017)

Initially, I wanted to explore the hippie culture and feminism of the time, so I looked at some websites about the mood of the 1960s and the rise of the anti-establishment. Additionally, to begin my research on YSL I looked at some articles and condensed biographical information on his life and designs.

Brief timeline of YSL’s designs in the 60s

Description of YSL’s values and exhibition

French feminism and 60s counterculture

YSL’s designs and biography

Ultimately, my supervisor and I decided that it might be difficult to write an Art EE based on feminism, as it does not have a direct link with art. Thus, I modified my question so that I could explore the relationship between Saint Laurent’s designs and his influences.

Deeper research (February 2017)

I visited the Central Public Library to try and find books and deeper studies about Saint Laurent, Modernism and art movements. However, after some research into pop art influences on YSL’s clothes, I discovered that he was in fact not just influenced by pop art but also modern art. In particular I So after some reflection, I modified the focus of my RQ from “pop art” to “modern art” to allow for more examples.

Modernism (Movements in Modern Art) by Charles Harrison – Timeline of YSL’s evolution from Dior protégé to army drafting

I found a particularly useful site with a similar aim as my EE. It focuses on the kind of clothes featuring artwork that YSL was influenced by with examples and context.

I also found two books on Mondrian which I have been making notes on, in addition to an online PDF version of his 1937 essay titled “Plastic Art and Pure Plastic Art”

  • Mondrian (John Milner), Printed in Hong Kong, 2000 edition (Phaidon)
  • Mondrian (Hans L. C Jaffe), Printed by Thames and Hudson in Japan, First edition published in London 1990.
  • Link to “Plastic art and pure plastic art, 1937, and other essays, 1941-1943 [by] Piet Mondrian” :




  • Yves’ brief background
  • mention research question
  • cultural and historical context (Dior, war)
  • mention artists and modern art


Topic for Investigation

Purpose and focus: I have always been interested in fashion and how the anatomy and design of a piece of clothing can create sensation and change politically and culturally, be influenced or influence other ideas and cultures. So naturally, I found it interesting that the first women’s tuxedo was able to empower women in its historical context.

Significance: Saint Laurent was influential in combining art and fashion to appeal to the younger generation, while empowering women and simplifying silhouettes. Furthermore, it enhanced the idea of pieces that looked good on their own and were easy to wear, instead of matching one’s accessories and clothes to complete an outfit. This was in line with the growing counterculture of the 1960s propagated by the hippie lifestyle, anti-war stance, feminism and freedom.

The “Smoking” tuxedo paved the way for women’s power dressing. Although during its conception it was not received well because women were not supposed to wear trousers, it showed that men and women could dress equally with glamour and spurred on the popularity of androgyny.

Why is it Worth Investigating?: Suits and pants are now considered classic unisex wear. Although the trouser may have eventually become considered unisex, it probably would not be as widely accepted in modern fashion.

Academic Context: The changing design of clothing and its relevance to society throughout history.

Scope for Personal Involvement: I could possibly watch a documentary or interviews with YSL, and also have a look at some galleries.

Approach towards investigation:

I would like to use an informant’s way of presenting my information. This involves collecting specific pieces of information from a variety of sources including websites, books and photographs.

Transparent fabrics

Power dressing: Le Smoking

Safari jacket

Mondrian dress (wearable art)

Key Terms:




Mrs. Sparrow’s notes:

Also look at Chanel and the influence of the suit designs created.

The World wars impacted on both the movements and civil rights movement.

Germaine Greer ‘The female Eunuch’ is a very famous book read by most art students! But this was published in 1970.

I think looking at fashion, art and culture and how they all impact on each other is key.

You need to look at images for the art EE and analyze them.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s