YSL’s Strong Suit: Clothes for Working Women

Yves Saint Laurent scored a triumph with the Rive Gauche spring ready-to-wear collection he showed here Wednesday.

“Saint Laurent completely followed the lines of his couture collection,” said Ellin Saltzman, senior vice president and fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue. “That collection was superb. This was equally superb.”

For Rose Marie Bravo, I. Magnin/Bullocks Wilshire chairman, who also attended the couture collections in July, this Rive Gauche show was “masterful. All else pales beside it.”

Though it wasn’t an innovative presentation, it was a refining and rethinking of the best of Saint Laurent and it was evident that he was in charge throughout.


Many retailers have been asking ever since Milan: “Where are the working women’s clothes?” They were here. Especially for women who are not kids and who hold top jobs.

The designer continued his strong suit statement with that defined, Saint Laurent silhouette which marks the shoulders, hugs the waist and stops just above the knee.

Further Defined

In a series of suits made of navy or black gabardine or wool jersey, the outlines of jackets, sleeves and even skirts were further defined with masses of flat gold buttons.


A few longer lengths showed up for day, but (except for one white cotton skirt topped with a body-hugging, ribbed knit sweater), they didn’t look as if Saint Laurent believed in them.

More convincing was the new length for his classic pleated pants: chopped off to show a flash of ankle. One of the best was the sunflower yellow raw silk version with black buttons. In another palette, a smoke blue gabardine jacket and ankle pants were worn with an ascot-tied blouse of even paler blue crepe de chine.

Two other jackets are sure to be favorites with YSL fans and to inspire lots of less expensive copies. One is a shirt-jacket of cafe au lait poplin with drawstring waist, shown with black cotton pants. Another, a shawl-collar blazer of black polished cotton, sashed at the waist in black leather and shown with a tobacco poplin slim skirt.

More great jackets for late day were in the cotton damask group, where Saint Laurent’s sure hand with color added to the excitement. A jewel-neck, big-sleeved jacket teamed with absinthe cotton damask pants. A white jacket was worn with pearl gray shantung trousers and a white crepe T-shirt massed with ropes of great black pearls.

Saint Laurent’s Rive Gauche collections often stretch to almost two hours and 200 styles. This one, paced to a medley of Edith Piaf’s greatest hits, ended with 126 .

For summer evenings, the look is white crepe for covered-up, long dresses belted in gold and worn with high heeled gold sandals. The look was polished perfection, from the sleek chignons and frankly pretty makeup of the models to the clothes, accessorized with gold chains, pearls, gold buttons and wide cuff bracelets.

Obviously moved by the reception he received, Saint Laurent almost stumbled as he made his way down the long runway to shouts of “bravo!” He was in tears backstage when friends rushed to congratulate him.