Yves Saint Laurent + Halston
Insights on Their Work During the '70s
Part of The Baker Museum Lecture Series
Patricia Mears, Deputy Director
The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology
The 1970s was a time of momentous change in fashion. Sandwiched between the counterculture of the `60s and the opulent `80s, this decade witnessed the demise of haute couture’s majestic reign and the ascension of designer-led conglomerates. By embracing and leading these changes, Yves Saint Laurent and Halston became the most influential high fashion creators of the 1970s. In addition, they became celebrities and remain two of the most important figures in modern fashion history.
This talk will examine how Halston and Saint Laurent helped move fashion trends forward, from their incorporation of vintage clothing and non-western dress to an increasingly relaxed dress code, while setting the template for the growth of big fashion corporations. The distinctive hallmarks of each designer, such as Saint Laurent’s brilliant use of color, drama, and fantasy, and Halston’s unparalleled mastery of modernism and minimalism, will be juxtaposed with the remarkably similar ideas they held during the early years of the `70s. Crucial to their success was Saint Laurent’s ready-to wear Rive Gauche line, the starting point for his legendary couture and Halston’s innovative, couture-quality construction methodologies that revolutionized American fashion.
This lecture accompanies the exhibition Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the ’70s on display at The Baker Museum, November 7, 2015 —March 6, 2016.
Patricia Mears is the Deputy Director for The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (MFIT). She began working there as the research curator in 2005 and was promoted to her current position in 2006.
In that time, Mears has organized numerous exhibitions and written the accompanying books that have been published by Yale University Press. They include Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness (2007); Madame Grès: Sphinx of Fashion (2008); Isabel Toledo: Fashion from the Inside Out (2009), co-curated with Valerie Steele; American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion (2009); Impact: 50 Years of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Ivy Style, both in 2012; Elegance in an Age of Crisis: Fashion of the 1930s (2014); and Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s (2015), co-curated with Emma McClendon.
Mears was a contributor to the MFIT publications, Japan Fashion Now (2010) and Dance and Fashion (2014), both published by Yale University Press.
In addition to her curatorial duties, Mears also oversees the museum’s budget and personnel.
From 1991 to 2003, Mears was the assistant curator of the costume and textile collection at the Brooklyn Museum of Art where she organized numerous exhibitions. They include Fancy Feet (1993); A Slice of Schiaparelli (1995); and Japonism in Fashion (1998).
In addition to her institutional experience, Mears has worked as a freelance curator, fashion historian, and lecturer for 25 years. She has organized over a dozen exhibitions in the US, Europe and Japan including Millicent Rogers (2002) for the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos, NM; XXIème Ciel: Mode in Japan (2003) at the Musée des Arts asiatiques in Nice, France (and edited the accompanying book); Manuel: Star-Spangled Couture (2004) at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, TN (and was a contributing author of the accompanying book); and Cut and Construction (2005) for the Pratt Gallery in New York City. She was a lecturer on staff at Parson’s, The New School and the School of Graduate Studies, Fashion Institute of Technology.
Mears also wrote the essays in Halston (Phaidon, 2001) and contributed shorter essays on fashion to Skin and Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture (Thames and Hudson, 2006) and a monograph on the American artist, William Glackens (2013).