The New Allure: Couture 1980

Posted by Laura
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Yves Saint Laurent: Keep your eye on the legs... the beautiful blouse... on this very feminine, very soft approach to being in a suit—it's what the new allure is all about! Left, his one-button black alpaca suit, with its seductive little grosgrain gilet in black-and-white (still key Paris colors)... its leg-revealing wrap skirt. Right, another level of dressing, of sophistication in the contrast of a black wool gabardine suit—with an easy, gold buttoned jacket and wrap skirt—and his ravishing gold-sequined camisole, chiffon shot-with-gold pocket handkerchief. A very low-key but very unmistakable glamour... Unseen, but unmistakable glamour: Y fragrance by Yves Saint Laurent.

While Raf Simons is riffing on Christian Dior's 50s designs for his latest Dior couture collection and Christian Lacroix attempts to revitalize Elsa Schiaparelli's 1930s silhouettes, I keep looking back to the couture of the 1980s. Even the leading caption from this editorial from Vogue, April 1980, matches my mood exactly:

In the couture collections, there was a move in a new direction. It wasn't everywhere. It wasn't the whole story. But it was... a breath of fresh air. After seasons of extremes and exaggerations, a way of dressing emerged that was clearly different. With nothing retrospective about it: no overdone, squared-off shoulders; no too-short, too-tight jackets; no nipped-in waists. Nothing tough in either the tailoring or the fabrics. Nothing excessive or elaborate in the way of ornamentation. Instead, in the best collections, you find a whole new category of "in between" dressing for late day/easy evening... dressing with new options. Clothes that give you a feeling of being dressed without being overdressed; that provide a definite change from day without resorting to big evening theatrics. And, whether it's a new soft version of a suit with an unexpected and beautiful blouse, or the eye-catching flirt of a new dress, these are the clothes not easily typecast. But they share an immediate appeal, a modern sense of attractiveness and versatility. Quickest tip-off to that appeal: the look of legs—it's everywhere and brings a new raciness to fashion. That's the beginning. What follows on these fourteen pages, all the differences to keep your eye on now... the new elements in fashion that suggest certain changes—and delights—to come...

All images and text from Vogue, April 1980 — Gia Carangi, Nancy Donahue & Terri May photographed by Andrea Blanch.


(L) Yves Saint Laurent: A dress to convince nonbelievers—young, flirty, ready-to-move.His new long-torso shape, here in black-and-white flower print crêpe de Chine, with one soft, bias asymetric flounce, side-draped and tied. Photographed in a Paris apartment, interior design by Andrée Putman.

(R) Ungaro: Brilliant, blatant colors set the tone—the style—for a very modern way of "dressing." The easy-fitting jacket—longer, looser—in vivid turquoise wool edged in black grosgrain. Over his one-of-a-kind special print, giant tulips scattered on black silk jacquard crêpe de Chine—a shorter leg-showing wrap dress, with bright red kidskin belt, sheer black chiffon a the neckline... out-and-out Ungaro bravado! Photographed at Ungaro, Paris.


(L) Givenchy: ...does a "little dress." All scallops and flirt, and larger-than-life purple/yellow pansies on a navy ground, in a season of prints: a winner. The finishing touch: a matching silk georgette scarf. Photographed in a Paris apartment, interior design by Andrée Putman.

(R) Yves Saint Laurent: There's more to this suit than the sensuous, curvy bolero, the tulip-shaped skirt. There's the feeling of femininity, the gentle turn to it all, the delight in just wrapping and tying the beautiful blouse behind your waist.


(L) Givenchy: A white gabardine suit to wear over and over: the jacket not-too-short; a knee-length skirt; the impact of a black/white camisole in his key-look geometric stripe. Photographed in a Paris apartment, interior design by Andrée Putman.

(R) Ungaro: The most modern take on "put-together"; a long, easy white wool ottoman jacket, black-satin edged; over a black/white/red silk crêpon chemise with a pretty little ruffle, a red satin cord at the neck. Photographed in the foyer at Ungaro, Paris.


(L) Valentino: For the woman who, on certain evenings, wants the option of a pyjama—Valentino's appealing black silk crêpe. With his signatures—an organdy choirboy collar, cutouts of black chiffon on the sleeveless top, the trousers. Photographed in a Paris apartment, interior design by Andrée Putman.

(R) Halston: What American women want from a suit: not only an attractive, finished look—they want performance. And that's what Halston delivers. His suit starts out with an assured "look" that goes from early morning to easy evening. But the pieces are thought-out, edited. The easy double-faced white wool jacket would work over anything you own. The white silk/wool jersey T-shirt top and the navy wool gabardine skirt are equally mobile. By Halston Made-to-Order at Olympic Tower, NYC. Photographed in the courtyard of the Plaza Athénée Hotel, Paris.


(L) André Laug: A more relaxed, a different way of being in pants—and still being "dressed"—at night, André Laug's soft silk crêpon pyjama in a beautiful black, ivory, and purple floral print, with a violet, beige, and ivory "caviar" tweed silk knit pullover. Photographed in the M.A.F.I.A. offices, Paris. 

(R) Mila Schön: A sharp, racy line for day—Mila Schön's navy wool gabardine pants suit with an easier jacket. And always—a beautiful blouse—here, in front-tucked white linen. Photographed at the new Forum des Halles in Paris.


(L) Dior: Marc Bohan's soft-falling 3/4-length white wool coat and soft-edged grey herringbone wool pants suit with a longer jacket. Underneath, the all-out charm of a blouse: in pale-grey silk façonné chiffon, from the white Eton collar and cuffs to the grosgrain ribbon tie. Photographed at Dior, Paris.

(R) Valentino: Tip off to a whole new mood: instead of a shirt or a sweater, a beautiful blouse... every time! Left, Valentino's ivory silk georgette with front-tucking and a Chantilly lace collar, a ribbed white wool longer cardigan-jacket and white wool gabardine wrap skirt. Right, Running throughout his collection—a blouse with a touch of unexpected bareness... Valentino's thin white wool gauze blouse, slashed in the back, filled in with sheer silk organdy, and white wool gabardine trousers. Photographed at the Longchamps Racetrack, Paris.

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