AnOther Magazine: How would you connect Fashion to Elegance?
Do they have to connect? I think elegance can intersect with fashion, but it is not necessary. Chanel said that “elegance is refusal”, and that is certainly a section of fashion. Your Célines, your Narciso Rodriguez. The stripped back stuff. But equally, you could not connect elegance with the ugliness and the vulgarity that is an essential and fascinating part of the fashion conversation. The fun stuff. Fun isn’t elegant. Elegance has a connection to a specific area of fashion, which is in fact quite limited; it is neither good nor bad. It is just there.
Fashion is a language: sometimes, it says too much. It’s frequently like being in a crowd and hearing too many people talking at once. Sometimes, I think that high fashion is a dialect, but clothing, overall, is the language. I think of it in the same way as, when you were at the court of Versailles, words were pronounced in a certain way, only perceived by the other courtiers. High fashion speaks with its own dialect, which is very difficult for people outside of it to understand.
Vogue Hommes International (2012) – “Was Saint Laurent an Artist?”
Pierre Bergé – “My usual answer to that is that fashion isn’t an art form and is special in that it is ephemeral. It has the decency to die young. That said, you need an artist to create fashions, certainly. And they are few and far between. Balenciaga was an artist to equal Braque. Christian Dior and Gabrielle Chanel were artists. Yves had the greatest colour sense of them all, including the artsits – the equal of Matisse. But his greatest talent was his understanding of zeitgeist. While Balenciaga, Dior, Madame Grès and Schiaparelli were great couturiers, they were locked into a couture of social caste, never straying outside of their aesthetic pantheon. The only two who went outside of that framework to enter more social territory were Chanel first, and then Yves Saint Laurent. What interests me is that Chanel fashions, Saint Laurent fashions. The fashion that speaks to its times and transforms them. Not ivory tower fashions, the fascist fashions imposed from above. When I was young, they used to say that there were two couturiers who were working for the year 2000, Courrèges and Cardin. The year 2000 has come and gone, and if you ever see anyone anywhere in the world dressed in Courrèges or Cardin, text me! I’d love to see that. Another piece of fashion claptrap. Fashion isn’t a laboratory, it’s not supposed to caricature the future. It’s the opposite – an excessively fragile, ephemeral link between the past and the future, nothing more. And then there’s something else: the Saint Laurent mantra whereby clothes are made to be worn. Not to be hung on the walls of a museum or to satisfy a secret fantasy. Unfortunately, that’s something a lot of designers forget.”