The Mondrian collection of Yves Saint Laurent

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Mondrian dresses by Yves St Laurent (1966)

The Mondrian Collection was designed by French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent (1 August 1936 – 1 June 2008) in 1965.[1] This collection was a homage to the work of several modernistic artists.[1] Part of this collection were six cocktail dresses that were inspired by the paintings of Piet Mondrian (1872–1944).[1] Because these six dresses played a major role in this collection the collection is called the Mondrian Collection.[1] In academic literature it has been questioned whether this name fully covers the aim of the collection, since there are other artists who inspired Saint Laurent such as Poliakoff and Malevich.[1] However, Mondrian seemed to play a leading role in this collection.

Design and construction[edit]

The six wool jersey and silk A-line Mondrian dresses comprised graphic black lines and blocks of white and primary colour, directly referencing the work of Mondrian.[2][3][4] Rather than being printed, the dresses were made of pre-dyed fabrics, each colour in their design being an individual piece of fabric.[3] Saint Laurent experimented with the interplay of lines by integrating them in the seams of the garment and giving a seemingly seam-free construction.[5] The weight of the fabrics used ensured that the dresses hung straight, without draping or movement to distort the simplicity of the effect - features that enhanced the Modernism theme of the designs.[3] In interviews Saint Laurent acknowledged that Mondrian inspired him to focus on simple dresses with minimal decoration.[1][6] Although the overall effect appeared simple, the technique was complex and required precision cutting and work-intensive haute couture techniques to achieve successfully, making the dresses expensive.[5]


Although Saint Laurent's Mondrian dresses were very successful, it was noted that several other designers had produced very similar works beforehand. In 1965, a New York reporter noted that the Mondrian dresses closely resembled two-colour jersey dresses that had already been produced and widely retailed by the French designer Michèle Rosier.[7] The New York Times claimed that the effect of the Mondrian dresses had been achieved two years previously by the American designer John Kloss.[8]

Convergence of fashion and art[edit]

The convergence of fashion and art in the Mondrian dresses is significant.[9] Whilst reflecting the fashionable Western silhouette, the designs also reflect the significance of the work of artists like Mondrian during the sixties.[10] The abstract, geometric visual language of the modernistic Dutch movement De Stijl to which Mondrian belonged was applied to the design of the six dresses.[10]

Saint Laurent was known for his love of fine art,[5] and had an extensive collection covering a wide range of periods and styles which had important influence on his work.[6] He said of Mondrian: ‘Mondrian is purity and one can go no further in purity in painting. This is a purity that joins with that of the Bauhaus. The masterpiece of the twentieth century is a Mondrian’.[11] The dresses have been described as a canvas on which Saint Laurent experimented with his artistic ideas,[12] and have become regarded as having captured the Zeitgest of their era.[11] As icons of 1965 fashion the dresses have been described as giving a new perspective on haute couture - namely that it didn't have to consist of a total look any more, and that it could be easy to wear.[6]


The Mondrian collection was widely published in many fashion magazines, with one dress featuring on the cover of Vogue in 1965.[13] Mondrian style dresses became very popular, with many mass manufacturers producing copies of the designs for lower prices, which were then widely circulated.[5]

In museums[edit]

Original Mondrian dresses can be found in several museums around the world, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam,[10] the V&A Museum in London,[4] and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.[14]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hohé & Sloof
  2. ^ "Couture: Iconic YSL creations". Foundation Pierre Berge - Yves Saint Laurent. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
  3. ^ a b c Cohn, Hana (4 April 2013). "The 50 Best Artist Collaborations in Fashion: 47. Yves Saint Laurent x Piet Mondrian". Complex. Complex Media Inc. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Cocktail dress, "The Mondrian collection," Yves Saint Laurent, 1965". V&A. Retrieved 2014-10-11.
  5. ^ a b c d Hohé & Sloof, p.138
  6. ^ a b c Bergé, p. 21
  7. ^ "Parisienne Pioneers Pop Style". The Montreal Gazette. HTNS. 14 September 1965. Retrieved 4 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Dress, John Kloss, about 1966". Out of London: Paris and New York 1965–1968. Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  9. ^ Sung Bok Kim, p.55
  10. ^ a b c "Mondriaanjurk, Yves Saint Laurent, Abraham, Bianchini-Férier, 1965". Rijksmuseum (in Dutch). Retrieved 2014-10-11.
  11. ^ a b Bergé, p.168
  12. ^ Sung Bok Kim, p. 57
  13. ^ Mode & Kunst. Zwolle: Wbooks. 2011. p. 142.
  14. ^ "Yves Saint Laurent: 'Mondrian' day dress (C.I.69.23)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (September 2014)