Inspiration from the Fondation Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent

A new online archive of inspiration images from fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent has recently been launched.

A prize-winning design for a cocktail dress caught the eye of the Dior fashion house in 1954 and the teenage Yves Saint Laurent's career in Paris was assured.

Yves Saint Laurent as a teenager in 1954

A prize-winning design for a cocktail dress caught the eye of the Dior fashion house in 1954 and the teenage Yves Saint Laurent’s career in Paris was assured. In association with Pierre Bergé, whom he had met in 1958, Yves Saint Laurent decided to create his own couture house and his first collection was presented in 1962 in Paris. Yves Saint Laurent is credited with the invention of the modern woman’s wardrobe: the pea-jacket and trenchcoat in 1962, the first tuxedo in 1966, the safari jacket and the first trouser suit in 1967, the first transparent effects and the first jumpsuit in 1968. By making use of male dress codes, he brought women self-assurance, audacity and power whilst preserving their femininity. Wishing to dress all women, not only rich haute couture clients, Yves Saint Laurent opened his Saint Laurent rive gauche boutique in 1966 in Paris, the first ready-to-wear boutique to bear a couturier’s name, thus paving the way to what has today become the fashion world.

YSLFrom the end of the 1950s and throughout his career Yves Saint Laurent also created costumes for theatre, ballet and cinema. He collaborated with Roland Petit, Claude Régy, Jean-Louis Barrault, Luis Buñuel, François Truffaut… and dressed Jean Marais, Zizi Jeanmaire, Arletty, Jeanne Moreau, Isabelle Adjani and Catherine Deneuve.

After his retirement from designing, Yves Saint Laurent devoted his energy to the activities of the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, which was state-approved on 5th December 2002. While Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé always took care to preserve this important collection of fashion and sketches, the Fondation’s mission is now to conserve the 5,000 haute couture garments and 150,000 accessories, sketches and other objects making up the collection; to organise thematic exhibitions on fashion, painting, photography, the decorative arts, etc.; and to support cultural and educational activities.

The Fondation wanted all aspects of the archive to be accessible and as such set about digitizing the collection. Paper dolls, fashion sketches, sketches of costumes and sets for film, theater, ballet and music-hall, and also posters and a comic, will be made available on the website of the Foundation. Detailed instructions accompany each of these works and they are fully searchable.

Within the archive there is evidence of Yves Saint Laurent’s own inspiration. As early as 1965 Yves Saint Laurent paid tribute to artists in his haute couture collections with the famous Mondrian dresses, then in 1966 with the pop art dresses and in 1967 with his major homage to Africa. In the 1970s he presented his Picasso and Diaghilev collections and tributes to Matisse, Cocteau, Braque, Van Gogh, Apollinaire in the 1980s.

There is also the opportunity to dress your own doll, just like Yves Saint Laurent did when compiling his collections! The archive still holds the collection of paper dolls, clothes and accessories he made between 1953 and 1955. There is also some excellent information about how the team cares for and conserves the collection. The website’s default language is set to French but is easily changeable to English, so get browsing!

Yves Saint Laurent and Paper dolls, Paris, 1957 Photography François Pagès © François Pagès / Paris Match / Scoop

Yves Saint Laurent and Paper dolls, Paris, 1957
Photography François Pagès
© François Pagès / Paris Match / Scoop

Sew Last Century! at the The West End Festival

A while ago now, but we thought you might like to see a few snaps of the Sew Last Century troopers take part in Glasgow’s West End Festival Parade, which took place a few weeks ago. The girls looked fab in their very own designs inspired by GSA Archives and Collections’ Sylvia Chalmers sketches, designs and textiles. And look, sunshine!


For more information about Sew Last Century!’s work with the Archives and Collections Centre, see our previous blog post.

Fashion illustrator Julie Verhoeven creates new work inspired by the British Library

Illustrator Julie Verhoeven, famed for the bright and cheerful illustrations that have coloured numerous well known brand’s advertising campaigns such as H&M, Lancome and M.A.C., has recently created some new artwork (below) inspired by the British Library’s magazines collection and wildlife sounds. The new piece was created especially for the Spring Festival 2013 (which celebrates music, fashion and fun inspired by the Library’s collections).

6a00d8341c464853ef017c37640842970b-800wiDuring an event at the British Library, Verhoeven spoke about where she gets her inspiration from. She started the event by spreading magazine covers, comics, pieces of fabric, clothing and photographs across the floor for everyone to see (her favourites were Misty comics and Smash Hits). She mentioned her love of libraries and archives as a place for inspiration – to find serendipity and visual stimuli at a fast pace.


Visit Verhoeven’s website and her blog. See also the British Library’s excellent Cultural Industries blog, from which we heard about this story, for more details.

Celia Birtwell reworks archive prints for Uniqlo collection

celia birtwell  for UniqloTextile designer Celia Birtwell famed for her collaborative work with Ossie Clark  and whose iconic printed designs epitomise the 1960s and 1970s has reworked designs from her archive for a new collection for Japanese fashion brand Uniqlo.

Birtwell for UniqloCelia’s designs have been reworked, resized, re-coloured and re-imagined. While some of her most famous designs, including Candy Flower and Mystic Daisy, feature in the collection, Celia has also reworked and updated some of her designs especially for Uniqlo. For example, she has amended some of her home furnishing fabrics for the purposes of fashion – her Beasties print, depicting mythological creatures inspired by a 17th century embroidery she found in the basement of the V&A, has been digitally resized to accommodate its change in purpose.

The collection will be launched on March 21st. Visit Uniqlo’s website for more details.

celia birtwell


Dorothy Smith material on display in GSA Library

Following International Women’s Day on Friday, GSA Archives and Collections and Library staff have created a small exhibition dedicated to Dorothy Smith, a student at GSA during World War II who studied Design and specialised in Embroidery and Weaving.

Embroidery sample showing a variety of stitches, by Dorothy Smith, c1940-1945

Embroidery sample showing a variety of stitches, by Dorothy Smith, c1940-1945

The Archives and Collections Centre holds a collection of material by Dorothy Smith, including her GSA student notebooks, her Jordanhill teacher training notebooks, textile designs and embroidery samples as well as two finished embroidery pieces, of which just a small selection is on display here. Library books thought to have been consulted by Dorothy Smith in her days as a student and still available for consultation today complement the selection from the ACC.

Studio 58: Women Artists in Glasgow Since World War II (Glasgow: Glasgow School of Art, 2012)

Studio 58: Women Artists in Glasgow Since World War II (Glasgow: Glasgow School of Art, 2012)

The display cabinet is located on Level 1 of the Library. An introduction and captions are provided alongside the display and can also be found in the ‘Library Display Cabinets’ folder as part of the Archives and Collections course on the VLE. Call in at the librarians’ office (just to the left of the display) or at the Archives and Collections Centre for more information.

Look out for future posts about our library displays here and on the Library’s Art and Design Resources blog.

We love the Zandra Rhodes Digital Study Collection project blog. Firstly, the Zandra Rhodes collection is fantastic and the blog really helps to show this off, but the blog also provides a unique and useful insight into the processes of archive cataloguing and providing online access, as well as the trivialities and potential problems that might occur when dealing with textiles and textile designs specifically.

Zandra Rhodes Digital Study Collection project

The photography of 500 garments has now been completed, and the project team is currently working on putting the Zandra Rhodes Digital Study Collection online!

1. Developing a trial version
The images and metadata have been uploaded to the private test website for VADS.  This initial version of the Zandra Rhodes Digital Study Collection has been tested in-house and several adjustments were made to the interface at this stage.  For example, we’ve doubled the default size of the thumbnail images on the search results pages, and a ‘zoom’ feature was also introduced for the Zandra Rhodes images.

2. Student interns provide their feedback
A student focus group was held at UCA’s Rochester campus in November, with student interns from BA Fashion Design and BA Fashion Textiles who have already assisted us with the photography and documentation stage of the project at Zandra Rhodes Studio in London.  The students were…

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Victor Stiebel Archive now online

Digital images of the Victor Stiebel (1907-1976) Archive, held at the London College of Fashion, are now available to view online on the VADS website. Stiebel designed clothes for members of the aristocracy, the royal family, and Hollywood stars. Three sketch books containing designs from the early 1960s have been digitised.