More Of This, Please

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My amiga Tomiko shared this video on her Facebook page, and I HAD to post it here for all to see.

The late, truly great designer Yves Saint Laurent was an innovator of style and a champion of black models in the fashion industry. Check out this fabulous AmberMag article for more. Oh, and I am newly in love with Voguespirit, this whole YouTube channel. It’ll transport you to a bygone, much more fabulous era.

I love the rich, meaningful pause he gives between his words — he reveals a true appreciation for black beauty. We need more of this in the fashion industry today, if you ask me. Yves Saint Laurent passed away in 2008 — but of course his brand will live on forever.

Clip is from Yves Saint Laurent – His Life and Times.

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Comments

  1. When I was student years ago in Paris in the late Eighties, I lived across the street from his Maison de Couture. I would stare from my room everyday to catch a glimpse of him. Never has a designer besides Givency appreciated Black beauty and style more . Now a days the runways are full of the dime a dozen models who lack any special appeal. Those days are gone.

  2. Hey Bella! This is great and it is nice for him to say such things, but really, I’m a little tired of the whole “they should use more Black models” thing. Why? Because fashion is a business, it is about economics. If the designer is not using Black models, then s/he is not “selling” their products to us. So, we shouldn’t buy them. The fact that Black women continue to buy from designers who aren’t representing them is the real problem, if you ask me. Let’s put our money into people who want to take it. An all white runway should equal all white money. Globally, “people of color” are an economic force to be reckoned with. If they don’t want our money, then let’s stop giving it to them. And don’t buy their perfumes, magazines, cosmetics or any of the other stuff they hawk, either. It’s that simple.

  3. Blogreader says:

    I’ve seen the documentary from which the excerpt is taken and although I’m glad YSL gave black models opportunities I find that quote rather troubling. It’s close to fetishizing black women.

    Imagine if he made the same comments about white models or Asian models. They don’t all have the same body, nor do they all express the same spirit of “provocativeness.”

    Maybe he chose black models for that quality, but that’s a different issue altogether.

    In same documentary, I believe, he goes on about the color of fabric against black skin, in way that also smacks of exoticism.

    Be careful what you choose to admire.

  4. Blogreader says:

    If you wonder why beautiful black women still tend to be cast in sexy, sometimes animalistic roles in ads and runway shows, as opposed to the ingenue or the girl next door, the attitude expressed by YSL is one reason.

  5. I really appreciate this clip. I don’t think it is exoticism at all, I think in an industry where beauty is everything his comments about black women are refreshing. I guess you can’t please everyone.

  6. blogreader, which runway shows/print ads are you seeing where models of any color are cast as ingenues/girls next door? That’s a very mainstream American ideal, which I personally have only seen on covers like Seventeen magazine eons ago.

    And the Black models YSL worked with did have very similiar frames; sinuous and gazelle-like with mile long legs. Pat Cleveland, Iman, and the other African/Caribbean women he hired were all renowned for their regal poise, so I’m sure this is what he was referring to. Kinda off topic, but imo runway models of all colors were on a different level in the 70′s and 80′s/early nineties than these boring chicks are now, including some of the Black girls. I don’t think anyone Mr. Laurent was fetishizing these women, just noting the qualities they had as you have noted.

  7. Blogreader says:

    Gisele:

    I see many nonblack models in print ads and on the runway whose prettiness and girlishness, not sexual provocativeness, is emphasized. The point is not whether white models are ever portrayed as sexy in high fashion (of course they are), but whether black models are ever portrayed as anything else.

    As far as black women being portrayed as animals, that’s been well documented:

    http://contexts.org/socimages/2009/08/19/another-photoshoot-places-a-black-woman-among-animals/

    http://www.zimbio.com/member/gingerbeer25/articles/tEXK9Pp099f/Nike+Commercial+Makes+Black+Athlete+Look+Like

    http://jezebel.com/5337618/why-photograph-a-black-woman-in-a-cage

    If YSL wasn’t referring to ALL black women models he should have chosen his words with more care, adding qualifiers such as, “The models I choose to work with are …”

    But he didn’t. He made a general statement, one with which I correctly took issue. He doesn’t get a pass just because he was a famous designer.

  8. Blogreader says:

    As I noted, in the same or a related documentary (there were two made at the same time), YSL goes on about “Black skin! It catches the light just so!” (I’m paraphrasing from memory.

    It is impossible to imagine that he would discuss a nonblack model in the same terms.

  9. oh, so if they don’t want to use a black model, they’re trying to exclude us, but if they say they love black models, they’re fetishists. damned if you do, damned if you don’t. :shrug:

  10. Blogreader says:

    BritB Says:

    If you think that’s what I meant, you’ve completely misread my comments.

  11. Caribbean Girl says:

    wow – hopping along to add documetary to my wish list.

  12. This was included in the AmberMag link Bella provided–It’s a shame this love of diversity is lacking in a new century-smh

    “Iman, former Saint Laurent model and CEO of Iman Cosmetics shares Smaltz’s belief but also points out Saint Laurent’s passion for all women of color. “Mr. Yves Saint Laurent had a love affair with models with skin of color whether they were Africans, African-American, Caribbean, Brazilian, Indian, Tahitian, Japanese and all the colors in between… no designer has given us models with skin of color a higher tribute.”

  13. Bella, thanks for showing the spotlight on YSL. Makes me appreciate him more knowing he went to bat for black models. I do love Voguespirit channel too, thanks for sharing this as well.

  14. Kwana aka OrangeStar616 says:

    Bravo Yves well said…..

  15. Blogreader says:

    A pigeonhole is still a pigeonhole.

  16. I saw this on his website after he died and I also lived in Europe during the 80′s and our beauty was celebrated. I wrote a post about one of his other favorites and one of mine, Rebecca Ayoko. That’s what I loved about YSL, even though Mounia was clearly a favorite, the models of the French speaking African countries and even American models became his stars in those days. From Gianfranco Ferré and even Karl Lagerfeld- before he became an idiot, Black models were used in record numbers. If they sold high-end Haute Couture in those days, why can’t they sell them now? Today’s designers don’t have a backbone anymore and have followed the trends of other designers with the anorexic, deer in the headlights models of today, the Eastern European models of choice. Today’s runways are hard to even look at these days because the models are so stiff. Thank GOD that I stll have my memories, magazines and can find videos of the good old days.

  17. From just reading a lot of stuff on the history of YSL,and seeing a lot of archive photos, one could see his love for Black models even w/o having heard him say it.

    And what if he was fetishizing? Who cares? He liked & appreciated the beauty of women of color. He liked what the browness/blackness brought to the table & how it enhanced his designs. You can clearly see that genuine appreciation in the way he was talking. It’s fashion, so EVERYbody’s beauty is bound to be objectified on one level or another. What of it?

    More importantly, I’ve never come across any troubling images of the way he portrayed Black models. He was respectful about it.

    And since his clothes are known for being sexy, probably any model he used was gonna come off in some variation of sexy anyways…it’s not a shocker that he looked at it in those terms, i.e. “provocative”, “the bodies”. Makes sense to me.

    Big ups, Yves! There needs to be more like you…

  18. He was one of the 1st high end designers to give clothes to Ebony Fashion fair. In the beginning many didnt want black women even seeing thier clothes .love him.

    of course fetish features. what is real or pc about fashion?

    women in coture are all fetishized, stylized, stereotypes at best. black women included. your not so much an individual as a type.

    I choose to respect Yves for having the balls to include different ethnicities because he felt they were beautiful and made his clothes look good.

    I also love the african influences in some of his collections which he acknowledged as well.

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