Right here Are Yves Saint Laurent’s Ideas on Colour in 1977

For Home Lovely’s a hundred and twenty fifth anniversary this yr, we’re digging into a few of our favourite areas from our archive—together with, to date, decorator Sister Parish’s New York Residence and the West Hollywood house and studio of designer extraordinaire Tony Duquette, dubbed “the home of a magician.” Right here, we revisit a Q&A with Yves Saint Laurent about colour from 1977, which was first printed in our February difficulty that yr.

Yves Saint Laurent exploded onto the style scene in 1958 because the younger successor to Christian Dior, after his sudden dying some months prior. Within the ‘60s and ‘70s, the couturier’s affect was immense. He knew the ability of pantsuits for girls, popularized the concept of ready-to-wear excessive style, and was a very skillful colorist.

Right here, in our newest archive dive, we have a look again at a Q&A with Yves Saint Laurent about his colour philosophy—for each style and inside design—in 1977. From his basic perception that colour is 2 of the 5 senses (sight and contact!) to the colours he selected to stay with in his personal houses (each in Paris and Morocco), his ideas give perception into his experience and stylish private preferences.

Discover the unique story beneath.


Yves Saint Laurent is a reputation immediately related to exemplary design. Right here, in a uncommon interview, he solutions questions posed by Home Lovely about his present colour philosophy.


“Colour is 2 of the 5 senses—specifically sight and contact.”

By Patrick O’Higgins

I’ve recognized Yves Saint Laurent for 18 years. Not nicely, nonetheless. Only a few folks have had the privilege. He’s an enormously personal individual. Once we first met, he was 22—a shy, distant, reserved 22. He had the look of a scholarly, romantic 18-century seminary, a Gothic seraphim, or a sensible owlet drawn by Tenniel. He nonetheless does. He was a listener moderately than a talker. He nonetheless is. Introspective and distant, he was given to strolling into crowded rooms sideways. He continues to take action.

On the time, in 1958, Yves Saint Laurent had simply launched the Trapeze Search for the Home of Dior. It was an on the spot, resounding success.

Christian Dior, earlier than his sudden dying some months beforehand, had introduced publicly, “Yves Saint Laurent is my Dauphin!”

Yves Saint Laurent accepted this terrifying edict, fulfilled the proclamation past anybody’s goals, collapsed, retired and returned. However he returned flying his personal colours, so to talk, by proclaiming the opening of a brand new couture home: La Maison Yves Saint Laurent.

As with the Trapeze Look, his first assortment was an on the spot, resounding success.

He was the world’s youngest designer.

For the subsequent 18 years, with however one change of deal with to bigger quarters on the celebrated Avenue Montaigne, Yves Saint Laurent has invested couture, style—and every little thing else he touches—with a uncommon mixture of creative class, youthful exuberance, theatrical daring and nice visible magnificence.

He has one way or the other managed to mix the world of Chekhov with these of Colette, of Sarah Bernhardt and Jean Harlow, of Ia Belle Époque and North African Berbers. Social extremes are his bag. Luxurious is his factor. However it’s a wild, romantic form of luxurious. Why shouldn’t a gypsy’s wedding ceremony costume be trimmed with sable?

Yves Saint Laurent was born 40 years in the past within the shimmering however lugubrious North African metropolis of Oran, Algeria’s second largest metropolis. “He was born with a nervous breakdown,” says Pierre Bergé, his outspoken enterprise supervisor, company president and good friend—a gimlet-eyed cyclone who one way or the other combines a few of the traits of King Edward VII and Svengali.

“Pieds noir!” The metropolitan French got to branding their North African brothers. “Black toes!” Hypersensitive, shy and tremulous younger Yves Saint Laurent should have suffered acutely upon first reaching Paris. However he meant to succeed. He needed to be the world’s best theatrical designer. In spite of everything, he had been born a Leo.

He has needed to settle to being the world’s best clothier, purveyor of luxuries, animator, magician. Final season, stimulated by yet one more nervous breakdown, Yves Saint Laurent’s couture assortment was an unheralded explosion of colour. Prior to now he had all the time gave the impression to be holding again. However now the worlds of Ghengis Khan and Diaghile and La Traviata had been all of a sudden lumped collectively in a spread of fierce and fiery colours that Van Gogh and Gauguin would have appreciated.

“Colour” Yves Saint Laurent says, “is 2 of the 5 senses—specifically sight and contact.”

“Contact?” I question. That’s a brand new one.

“Actually!” There’s nothing obscure or evasive about Yves Saint Laurent when discussing topics that fascinate him. “After I unveil a brand new assortment, I all the time cover behind a display screen, after serving to the fashions costume, and observe their passage in entrance of one of the tough and demanding audiences on earth. One half are social and theatrical; the opposite is all press. At first nobody appears to be being attentive to the garments. They’re all too busy inspecting each other. I get alarmed inside myself, even frightened. Then somebody leans ahead to contact a costume. To really feel the feel? Probably not. I checked. They’re drawn, as a toddler is to a butterfly, by colour. That’s after I know I’ve their consideration. Colour, you see, is a mirrored image of the soul!”

ysl spread in house beautiful

The editors of Home Lovely compiled for me the next questions regarding Yves Saint Laurent’s present colour philosophy. Listed below are his solutions.

What are your favourite colours?

“Black and jewel colours—however brilliant, unique jewels comparable to Colombian emeralds and pigeon-blood rubies. I even have an affinity to earth colours, notably these wealthy browns and sandy beiges present in Morocco, round Marrakech, the place I’ve a house, an escape hatch, Paradise!”

Are there any colours you actually don’t like?

“No. Though lemon yellow generally offers me the pip, so to talk. And but if mixed with black, it may be fantastic. The proper colour combos are magical. Figuring out, being blessed with the attention of the way it’s performed, is equally magical. In style, Poiret and Schiaparelli had been each geniuses. As for me, as you see, I’m studying!”

What colours do you select to stay with in your house?

“At the beginning, white, after which beige. However you could keep in mind I’ve two houses. In Paris, on the Left Financial institution, I’ve needed to settle for after which dramatize the Nineteen Thirties decor that already existed. It’s a mishmash, like life, that mixes one of the best and the worst. Nonetheless, it’s an expression of the instances and, most likely, a press release about myself. There’s a lot of brown, black, with touches of purple, gold, bronze.

“In Marrakech, I’ve additionally needed to settle for after which dramatize a home that could be a curious combination of Moroccan structure and Artwork Deco. They mix collectively fantastically. As for white and beige, my perfect colours within the house, I reserve them for the library, bedrooms and varied nooks and crannies the place I like to cover, to work. However even with white and beige, I favor touches of vivid colour—what we name a soupcon. Lacquer in shades of aubergine; bronzes of all kinds; copper, silver and gold equipment. And flowers, and vegetation, after all. My favourite flower continues to be the lily.”

Do you are inclined to design out of a selected group of colours?

“Sure and no. Colour, in style, should mix with the fashions. There are years for brilliant colours. There are years for muted ones. Why? C’est dans l’air, the French say, it’s one thing within the air. The air may be sentimental, political, navy. I’ve all the time cherished khaki. You see, throughout my adolescence, it was all the trend—because of the conflict. Colour in inside ornament, nonetheless, isn’t as risky. It has to last more.

“For the house, ladies in France have all the time determined the colours they needed. Decorators are uncommon birds. We don’t have the identical ardour, as in America, for harmonizing. The woman of the home—or the studio condominium—works immediately together with her painter and her tapissier, her upholsterer. It’s all fairly haphazard and moderately makeshift however the outcomes may be extraordinary. That is due, largely, to outdated rooms, in outdated buildings, rooms that have already got a persona. I imagine there’s a lack of such rooms in America. The best influences in France, in terms of adorning, had been ladies of consequence: Marie Antoinette, Madame de Pompadour, Madame du Barry. It’s lucky that all of them had style and listened to artisans who additionally had style. However what’s style in a house? It’s realizing when to cease after which to start out once more!”

Do you see a relationship between colours in style and colour in house furnishings?

“Little or no. In truth, none in any respect! Fashions and their colours change seasonally. House furnishings, as I discussed, should final considerably longer—hopefully.”

Are there ways in which colour is used to create sure results in style that is likely to be utilized to ornament?

“Actually! Optical results, for one. In style, there are colours which can be slimming or fattening. In adorning, there are colours that may make small areas look bigger and huge ones look smaller. A coloured ceiling, as an example, can increase or decrease a room. White ceilings with beige partitions will routinely make a room look increased; the identical applies to pale blue with navy blue and even black, to beige with purple. Conversely, if you wish to decrease the ceiling, simply reverse the colour combos. There are additionally wealthy and poor colours. The primaries are the wealthy ones. They need to be all the time used sparingly.”

Have you ever any feedback on the way in which sure colours appear to have reputation for a time after which wane in acceptance?

Everybody wants a change, notably the place fashions are involved. How else would I make my dwelling? Adorning presents one other downside. That’s why I favor what I name ‘protected’ colours—colours that preserve wanting contemporary and don’t irritate. It’s like consuming a heavy meal. You can not accomplish that day-after-day. Consider dwelling at Versailles. Small surprise they’d two units of bedrooms; one to obtain in and one to sleep in. Standard colours, like well-liked folks, are these which can be enduring.”

Do you see colour in any colour group rising in reputation proper now?

“In fact. I all the time do. I strive, in my very own means, to affect the general public’s style, however do you need to know one thing? The general public doesn’t actually should be influenced. It invariably is aware of what it needs and when it needs it. My very own private forecast for 1977 is white, purple, emerald inexperienced and black. However that’s for style. In adorning? I can solely generalize by saying look as soon as and look once more earlier than appearing. Monet, when he was portray these huge, ravishing canvases of water lilies did so for years. However first he noticed them at completely different hours of the day, morning, midday and evening. Gentle can change every little thing, you see. Sure rooms are beautiful at dawn or at nightfall, in half-light or candlelight, overcrowded with furnishings or just about empty. I feel that colours that improve and freshen will proceed to be well-liked: pale colours that match pores and skin tones. After which, as I mentioned earlier on, of eye-popping brilliance. Purple! A number of Chinese language purple.”

Other than black and white, do you are feeling there are any colour classics, colours which can be timelessly in demand?

“Actually. Beige and navy blue.”

Is there any colour changing into to everybody?

“You can not go improper with pink for girls, white for males. However preserve it beneath your hat! Pink makes ladies, no matter age, look contemporary and due to this fact youthful. White offers males an look of purity and sensuality. A deadly mixture.”

Do you assume that folks’s preferences in colour are associated to their coloration?

“Et remark! And the way—however concord should nonetheless exist, mix, dramatize the individual. There’s an outdated adage that redheads look nicely in inexperienced. Redheads look nicely in purple! So few folks actually know what colours flatter them. The best mistake they will make is to put on one thing as a result of it’s trendy. The identical issues applies to adorning. Do the reverse to what everybody else is doing! However, much more necessary, do what fits you—bodily, mentally, visually.”

How do you arrive on the colours you select in your mattress linen assortment?

“What a aid! I by no means thought you’ll ask me. I arrive at it by a strategy of elimination. White is my favourite colour for mattress linen, freshly washed and country-aired. However there are fashions, as with every little thing else, for mattress linen. You can not go improper with flowers. Stripes are all the time well-liked. Abstractions, notably if small, appear to please. There are not any set guidelines. I like statements. However one of the best critics, invariably, are in a single day visitors who say that they’ve slept nicely and when might they arrive and go to once more?”

house beautiful archive dive


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