Patchwork as Fashion

August 11, 2010 at 5:46 pm Leave a comment

Tom and Lorenzo have a great post up on their fashion blog about the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective going on at the Musee des Beaux Arts in Paris until the end of the month.  Suffice to say, I won’t be attending in person.  However, as I was reviewing the pictures to add a little fabulosity to my morning, I came across this dress from 1969:

Yves Saint Laurent gown from the 1969 collection

Yves Saint Laurent gown from the 1969 collection

Doesn’t it look exactly like something from a current Kaffe Fassett/Rowan book?  Big prints, bright colors, simple piecing.  The idea of wearing a patchwork maxi skirt may be hopelessly dated, but the colors to me look very contemporary.  Those tropical brights are unavoidably “in” right now.

I haven’t seen too many current fashion designers using recognizably traditional patchwork elements in their clothes lately; Jay McCarroll did it beautifully on the first season of Project Runway, and of course now he designs quilt fabric.  Angela Keslar from PR season 3 kept doing those awful yo-yo embellishments (which she insisted on calling “rosettes”) and they eventually got her kicked off, but I think the idea had potential, albeit in a much different form.  Tie-dye and shibori have made a comeback on the runway thanks to Proenza Schouler and Rodarte, among others, but it’s not quite the same thing.

I’d like to make some “wearable art” myself; one of the reasons I love making quilted purses is that they actually go out into the world to be seen, while bed quilts by their nature usually stay home.  However, as someone with a body that certainly doesn’t need any bulk added to it, I have hesitated to make a jacket, having seen too many that make the wearer look like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.  I’ve also seen a few that have embellishments or piecing details that, umm, shall we say, weren’t properly thought out for placement on the female form?  Perhaps the lady I saw wearing the Log Cabin jacket that put two coral-centered blocks right on her breasts really was living her sublimated Gypsy Rose Lee fantasy, but that’s not something you have to worry about with a purse.  Hopefully I’ll find the right project someday, but till then I won’t be piecing any clothing.

But imagine a world in which that patchwork maxi skirt would not only pass without comment but would be the height of fashion?  It would be a world very different from ours.

The girl who dances with the police horses:  is her skirt made of granny squares or yo-yos?  I can’t tell at this resolution.

How impressive that a top European designer like YSL would have produced a high-fashion runway look so closely influenced by American street culture of the time, and that forty years later, that same color palette is the height of fashion.  Everything old is indeed new again.  Peace!


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Quilt Odyssey 2010, Part II: The Vendors For All the Quilters Living with Cats

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