The Metropolitan Museum of Art is noted for showcasing the most influential art from the most acclaimed artists of the world. Home to some of the world’s most distinguished artwork, the Met houses famous painting, sculptures and even fashion.
In 2005, the world-renowned museum displayed an exhibition of fashion designer Coco Chanel’s impeccable designs, jewelry and perfumes, proving to all art critics and historians that fashion is indeed an art worth remembering. Fashion designers Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior have also left behind legacies that are being recognized in museums from Canada to Europe.
Timeless designers such as these have had substantial influence on succeeding designers, with their inventive designs serving as a palette for up-and-coming fashion “artists.”
Perhaps when one thinks of Chanel, whose real name was Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel, they think of a revolutionary, ingenious, and overall necessary member of fashion’s elite circle of designers. Chanel’s name is known worldwide, and the woman behind the tweed suits, quilted purses, and No. 5 perfume, is just as famous as the product lines she started in France. Chanel was one of a kind, never limiting herself to one idea and certainly never denying herself pleasures in life that would dictate her job as the everyday woman’s fashion advisor.
Chanel, who began a lifelong career around 1912, made it her purpose as a fashion designer to make clothing easier and more accessible for women. She dedicated her work to innovating comfortable suits and dresses and constructing baubles and jewels for any occasion. Chanel’s most important feat was her introduction of the “little black dress,” which became a staple for most women and remains a staple to this day. Among her other signature pieces, the cardigan and the leather quilted bag have also remained favorites. The recognizable double ‘C’ logo is everywhere, from the clasps on her purses, to scarves, to makeup compacts, and charms on bracelets. Chanel was a pioneer for women’s fashion and still leads as one of fashion’s premiere designer.
After World War II, fashion required a serious makeover, and Parisian couturier Christian Dior was just the man to make it happen. Once noting that “zest is the secret of all beauty,” Dior certainly brought such zest to his designs when the country was still hampered by the aftermath of the war. Dior emphasized his “New Look,” which included full skirts and cinched waists, A-Lines, and ballerina style pieces. Dior is heavily responsible for reinstituting Paris’ role as the fashion capital. Even after his death, his venture into accessories, perfumes and furs is still prosperous today.
Yves Saint Laurent, who struck out in the early sixties and is deemed the ‘King of Fashion,’ gave a simple gift to the fashion world, however, it left a defining impression on many people, ranging from students of the Fashion Institute of New York to the heirs and heiresses of the country’s biggest cities. Laurent chose to be daring with his designs, venturing into territory that most designers had yet to even contemplate. Laurent’s contribution to high couture and high-end fashion ignited an obsession with menswear designs, particularly the “le Smoking” tuxedo jacket, allowing women to tap into a powerful sense of style highlighted by suits and fitted jackets. Laurent loved to dramatize his couture, with safari dresses, see-through blouses, and shift dresses. Laurent was a versatile designer, dabbling in the bohemian style with peasant blouses and boleros; fixating on street style with leather jackets and turtlenecks; and focusing on modern wear with controversial mini dresses. Laurent was all about risk, and the who’s who of the fashion world never turned a blind eye to his latest creations.
Chanel, Dior and Laurent epitomize the ultimate Parisian trio. They have all had success during their lives and careers as fashion designers, but have also received posthumous praise, with their looks still being recreated, their products still flying off the shelves, and their names still leaving the mouths of current fashion professionals. Their legacy will undoubtedly continue, as even now celebrities endorse their goods and young men and women look towards their designs for inspiration. They are the artists of fashion and they unmistakably have shown the world that “la mode est