Sunday , June 13 2021

The dress that promotes Mondrian



"Revolutionary," copied many times around the world and inspired by other works of art … this is Mondrian's dress. Created in 1965 by Yves Saint Laurent, he helped promote the Dutch artist, one of the pioneers of the abstraction. "Almost at this moment, fashion changes its status and becomes art in its own right," says Aurélie Samuel, director of the Yves Saint Laurent museum collections in Paris, who has dedicated to this iconic dress a new exhibition since Tuesday.

It all begins with a book about Piet Mondrian, "who was not well known at the time," says his mother in Saint-Laurent, says Samuel. "He has some kind of revelation, he will make Mondrian's first dress, and all his work this year will be very inspired by this geometry and form of abstraction," which the press will describe as "totally revolutionary," she continues. Surely there was a collaboration between fashion and art in the past, but this time it is different: Saint Laurent works alone, "he is the one who manages to master the work of the artist and make a textile interpretation." "For a long time we knew Mondrian from Mondrian's dress "extremely copied, especially in the United States," says Samuel.

The first retrospective of Mondrian's work, which died in 1944, took place in 1969 at the Greenhouse Museum in Paris, four years after the show of Yves Saint Laurent. – This dress can also look like a picture. The question was how to paint a picture of himself, and Yves Saint Laurent managed to make a live picture respecting geometry. It was extremely new. It was not just a motive inspiration, "says Orelie Samuel.

From an exceptional purity, this dress is extremely complicated for realization. It is made in a pretty T-shirt "that hangs the light in a certain way and gives relief, depth, just like a table". In order for the black strips to be embedded, it was necessary to sew rather complicated technical inventions, without seeing the distinction. "It's kind of like a patchwork but inlaid, much more complicated to make a fully embroidered dress," according to the testimony of a seamstress who worked at that time in the workshops of Saint-Laurent.

Hidden body, but revealed

Today, Mondrian's dresses have infiltrated popular culture before being re-interpreted by modern artists, some of which are presented in the course as a Plexiglas light installation.

Mondrian's dresses marked the beginning of the painter's art dialogue with Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Georges Brack, Henri Matisse, Fernan Leger and Pierre Bonner. Only with sculptor Claude Lalanne, he did cooperate, first in 1969, with two particularly striking dresses with cast copper waist and chest, and later with the creation of sculptural jewels like a hat decorated with cabbage leaves. The mannequin had busts and sizes to be seen on the zinc-coated copper details of the body, the skin, the moles. These anthropomorphic nickes in galvanic honey decorate two parallel muslin dresses, a way of "displaying the body differently".

"For most of his career, Saint Laurent works on transparency, on the idea that the body should be shown but not fully disclosed," says Aurélie Samuel. There is the opposite: instead of showing the body through the mussel, it shows the body over the mussel, the body is hidden, but it is revealed. "

Olga Neddava / AFP

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