Posts in the Sylvie Vartan category

Mademoiselle Arlette dressMademoiselle Arlette clothing was designed by Arlette Nastat, co-owner of and designer for Réal, a high-end Paris boutique. Réal opened on Paris’s rue Saint Honoré in 1957, and, much like Mary Quant’s London shop Bazaar, the styles were designed for young women who had difficulty finding clothing that appealed to their tastes. Nastat was a mere nineteen years old when Réal opened, and the boutique soon boasted an impressive celebrity clientele that included Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Denueve, and Sylvie Vartan. Thanks to its association with French pop singers, Réal also became known as the quintessential yé-yé boutique. Réal’s importance was such that its fashions were featured in the pages of Elle alongside couture creations by venerable labels such as Cardin, Courrèges, Dior, and Lanvin.

Several designs from Réal, including styles worn by Vartan, were also produced in the United States. There, they were adapted and marketed by the Seventh Avenue businessman Andrew Arkin, and sold under the name Mademoiselle Arlette. Fashion journalists praised the Mademoiselle Arlette designs for offering the yé-yé look to an American audience. The brand was featured regularly in Mademoiselle magazine, which was known for featuring the latest French-designed ready-to-wear.

Mademoiselle Arlette dress
Ca. 1966
Museum purchase

This Mademoiselle Arlette dress was recently acquired by The Museum at FIT for inclusion in Paris Refashioned, and it exemplifies the label’s vibrant, girlish aesthetic. It is narrowly cut, with dimensions only scarcely wider through the hips than through the bust. This markedly underscores the slender, youthful body type for which it was intended.

Paris Refashioned, 1957-1968 runs through April 15, 2017 at The Museum at FIT in NYC.
Yves Saint Laurent pea coatThe links between fashion and celebrity culture during the 1960s are most often associated with London, with stars such as the Beatles and Twiggy becoming international sensations. Yet there was a vibrant and influential youth culture in France as well. Film stars including Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve became fashion icons, as did singers such as Françoise Hardy and Sylvie Vartan.

Brigitte Bardot’s impact on fashion was firmly established in 1959, when she married fellow actor Jacques Charrier in a full-skirted, pink gingham gown by Jacques Estérel. While the look of the dress itself was not innovative, the use of humble cotton fabric for a bridal gown flouted tradition. Only one month after her wedding, the New York Times reported, “You can’t buy a yard of checkered gingham in Paris, not even enough for kitchen curtains, since Brigitte picked the fabric for her wedding dress.”

Catherine Deneuve’s 1960s style was defined by her relationship with Yves Saint Laurent. She wore the designer’s clothing on- and off-screen, such as his original “le smoking” suit and a gown from his renowned “Pop Art” collection. She also owned some of Saint Laurent’s more subdued styles, including a navy wool pea coat with brass buttons from 1966. The Museum at FIT’s collection houses an example of this same design.
Françoise Hardy and Sylvie Vartan were associated with a musical genre known as yé-yé, which took its name from English-language songs that included the words “yeah, yeah, yeah” – most famously, the Beatles song “She Loves You.”

Yves Saint Laurent pea coat
Gift of Doris Strakosch

Paris Refashioned Installation View

Similar to the way the term “mod” in England and the United States, yé-yé became used as a term to describe various aspects of French youth culture. Particular clothing styles were identified as yé-yé fashion, including trench coats, striped t-shirts, and flat, Mary Jane-style shoes. Two trench coats included in the Paris Refashioned exhibition – one from Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, the other from André Courrèges’s ready-to-wear line, Couture Future – were selected to represent an aspect of the yé-yé style.

Left: trench coat by Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, circa 1967
Right: trench coat by Couture Future (André Courrèges), circa 1968
Photo by Eileen Costa. © 2017 The Museum at FIT
Paris Refashioned, 1957-1968 runs through April 15, 2017 at The Museum at FIT in NYC.