Gold and other offerings: how Yves Saint Laurent reinvented the humble accessory

 Yves Saint Laurent in his studio and sketch of the ‘Heart’ necklace
Left, Yves Saint Laurent in his studio at 5 avenue Marceau, Paris, 1986. Right, sketch of the ‘Heart’ necklace by Yves Saint Laurent, Vogue (France), November 1990. Yves Saint Laurent, Paris
(Image credit: Fondation Pierre Bergé )

‘I like dresses to be sober and accessories to be wild,’ Yves Saint Laurent told Elle in 1977. Now, a new Phaidon-published tome, Yves Saint Laurent Accessories, by Patrick Mauriès – author of Jewellery by Chanel (2012) and Maison Goossens: Haute Couture Jewelry (2014), documents the extravagance and diversity of the designer’s jewellery creations. It’s a chronology which begins with Yves Saint Laurent’s collaboration with Paloma Picasso in 1970, after the designer took note of her jewellery designs for Fernando Sanchez, and spans partnerships with jewellery houses including Goossens (a relationship honed during his time at Christian Dior), Scemama, Gripoix and Devez.

Yves Saint Laurent Accessories is split into thematic chapters, each of which highlights the diverse decorative motifs that singled out the designer’s jewellery collections, until his final runway show in 2002. There are sections devoted to golden ears of corn, hearts, crosses, doves, butterflies and feathers, bows, shells and coral, which capture creations ranging from the ornamental to the abstract, the modern to the theatrical, the graphic to the gilded.

Each chapter is interpersed with original sketches, backstage Polaroids, catwalk shots and still life set ups of Yves Saint Laurent’s imaginative designs, like a black and white backstage image of the designer holding a necklace to himself before his brand’s A/W 1981 Haute Couture show, or a Polaroid snapshot of model Bess Stonehouse sporting a pair of Goosens made bird earrings from the maison’s S/S 1988 Haute Couture collection.

Throughout the image-led volume, Mauriès offers an insight into the mindset behind Yves Saint Laurent’s approach to jewellery design, one overseen by Loulou de La Falaise after she began working for his house in 1972. Saint Laurent had a penchant for gold, distaste for the ‘bourgeois’ value of diamonds, and an instinct for elevating everyday materials such as wood, ceramics and soft trimmings into the realm of haute couture. For him, buttons were the jewellery for daytime.

In 1983, Yves Saint Laurent told Vogue that women should be laden with ‘gold and other offerings’. When it comes to Yves Saint Laurent Accessories, the tome has well and truly got you covered.

Earrings worn with a Cubist-inspired evening outfit and earrings by Goossens


(Image credit: Jean-Claude Sauer, Aylin Bayhan)

Left, earrings worn with a Cubist-inspired evening outfit from the S/S 1988 haute couture collection, Paris-Match, 12 February, 1988. Right, earrings by Goossens, made up of overlapping sections of ebony, snakewood, mother-of-pearl and gilt metal, from the S/S 1988 haute couture collection.

Leather-shaped earrings by Caillol, pointed hat in gold damask and choker by Gripoix


(Image credit: Aylin Bayhan)

Left, leather-shaped earrings by Caillol, in incised gilt metal, with red and black beads, from the A/W 1977 haute couture collection. Right, pointed hat in gold damask, with a gilt wire cloisonné flower, made of enamel on the brim, from the A/W 1977 haute couture collection, choker by Gripoix, in gilt metal leaves, with an enamel flower, from the A/W 1977 haute couture collection.

Woman in long white dress and gilt metal manchette bracelets by Goossens


(Image credit: Aylin Bayhan)

Left, gilt metal belt by Goossens and manchette bracelets with shells and coral, worn with a long dress from the S/S 1989 haute couture collection. Right, gilt metal manchette bracelets by Goossens, ornamented with real shells, gold-coloured snails, rock crystal and coral branches, from the S/S 1989 haute couture collection

Woman in long evening outfit and manchette bracelets by Goossens


(Image credit: Aylin Bayhan)

Left, tiara in gilt metal and coral, earrings in snail nacre and coral, cabochon choker and manchette bracelets, long necklace of stones and crystal beads, worn with a long evening outfit from the S/S 1980 haute couture collection. Right, manchette bracelets by Goossens, in metal and bodywork lacquer in the shape of coral branches, some ornamented with diamanté or gold beads, from the S/S 1980 haute couture collection.

Bird earrings by Goossens and brooch by Sabbagh


(Image credit: Aylin Bayhan)

Left, bird earrings by Goossens and brooch by Sabbagh, worn with a long evening outfit from the S/S 1988 haute couture collection. Right, two pairs of bird earrings by Goossens, in silvered metal on diamanté and in grey metal with blue diamanté and a grey pearl in the beak; two pairs of bird earrings by Sabbagh, in blue, navy diamanté and in light blue, turquoise diamanté.

A selection of silvered and gilt metal, coloured diamanté and glass paste buttons and ear of corn brooch by Goossens


(Image credit: Matthieu Lavanchy)

Left, a selection of silvered and gilt metal, coloured diamanté and glass paste buttons from the trays of buttons in Yves Saint Laurent’s studio. Right, ear of corn brooch by Goossens, with diamanté and gilt metal whiskers, from the S/S 1989 haute couture collection; ear of corn earrings by Goossens, studded with diamante, from the S/S 1982 haute couture collection.

Maltese cross brooch by Sabbagh


(Image credit: Aylin Bayhan)

Left, workshop sheet for a medieval-inspired evening dress with accessories descriptions, from the A/W 1966 haute couture collection. Right, Maltese cross brooch by Sabbagh, with grey diamanté and white pearl cabochons, from the A/W 1988 haute couture collection.

Woman in jumpsuit and necklace


(Image credit: Aylin Bayhan, Willy Rizzo)

Left, evening dress inspired by Bambara art from the S/S 1967 haute couture collection, Vogue (France), March 1967. Necklace worn with a jumpsuit from the A/W 1969 haute couture collection. Right, necklace by Denez, made up of a disc of red Galalith, pierced and threaded with a strip of flat black braid, decorated with a tassel and hung on a cord of black braid, from the A/W 1969 haute couture collection. 

Yves Saint Laurent Accessories, published by Phaidon

Yves Saint Laurent Accessories, published by Phaidon

(Image credit: Aylin Bayhan)

INFORMATION

For more information, visit the Saint Laurent website (opens in new tab) and the Phaidon website (opens in new tab)