The Fashion Fiend's Illustrated Guide to History: Un Scandale

A seminal moment in fashion history occurred when Yves Saint Laurent showed his Spring/Summer 1971 haute couture collection, basically ushering in the era of ready-to-wear. His goal was to shake up couture, giving the young something new by reaching back to the past (something that most designers now do as a matter of course). As he put it, "Young people, they don't have any memories".

Unfortunately, the fashion press regarded it as tacky, even offensive, as the styles were reminiscent of the 1940's, evoking a devastating war that many of the critics in his audience has actually lived through. To top it off, the models wore bright red lipstick and nail polish, which inevitably drew comparisons to the "fallen women" and prostitutes of the wartime era.

No matter - young Parisiennes flocked to wear the clothes, choosing the louder, more garish pieces and turning "bad taste" into something cool, desirable and chic.

An exhibition at the Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent in Paris puts a spotlight on this collection, showing famous looks like a glamorous green fur "chubby" and the lipstick coat (inspired by Paloma Picasso). If you want to see it in person, you'd better hurry off to Paris... the exhibit closes July 19!