Yves Saint Laurent Manifesto Brings Fashion to the People


Yves Saint Laurent Manifesto, Spring/Summer 2011. Photo: Emma Grady

Yves saint Laurent took to the streets for the eighth season in a row Saturday, March 5, with its Manifesto, a publication featuring the luxury fashion label's spring/summer 2011 collection.

Just 2,000 copies were distributed to passerby and fans alike in Paris, New York, London, Milan, Tokyo, Hong Kong -- causing an apparent frenzy -- and in Los Angeles, for the first time. (I found mine unexpectedly in Union Square, which was sans drama.)

Besides being printed on recycled paper, what does Yves saint Laurent's Manifesto have to say, if anything, about ethical fashion? Read on.
The 39-page Manifesto opens and closes with excerpts from "A Conversation Between Hans Ulrich Obrist and Stefano Pilati." In it, Pilati, YSL's creative director speaks to the goal of the publication, saying "I wanted to create a wider influence for the message that was being sent from the catwalk, by taking imagery of a collection and giving it to people on environmentally friendly paper in the street without targeting a specific demographic."

No longer interested in thinking of fashion in elitist way, Pilati brings the collection to a broader audience and offers a transparent view of the brand.

The Manifesto gives a behind-the-scenes look at the Spring/Summer 2011 womens show: an image on a computer screen -- ready for its final airbrush in Photoshop -- shows a model having her makeup retouched, hair fixed, and garment fitted by a number of attendants; this is Pilati being "honest," which is "perhaps the only way to make a difference," he tells Obrist.

It also responds to the modern day consumer who wants more reality, more information, and more transparency from fashion.

"You Can Pick Something Up From This and Do It Yourself."

If anything the publication puts the focus back on fashion and it's main elements, which the YSL creative director says, is the silhouette, the way clothes are cut, the fabrics, a special pattern. He continues: "It's to say - 'These are my thoughts and this is my message--you can pick up something from this and do it yourself.'"

And so, YSL's creative director gives a nod to the DIY movement. But if you're not the type to pick up a needle and thread -- and were among the lucky 2,000 to pick up a copy -- you can at least use pages for the Manifesto as a wall decoration, which is what I plan to do with mine.

Yves saint Laurent has dabbled in ethical fashion: in 2009, the French fashion house unveiled "New Vintage," an eco-friendly capsule collection made with remnant fabric from past collections and this month, the luxury label will premiere -- alongside Prada, Balenciaga, Burberry, Marc Jacobs, and more -- an eco-friendly design in the Runway to Green fashion show.

Have you seen the YSL Manifesto? What do you think? Tell us in the comment section below.

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Tags: Clothing | Green Fashion

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