The Nation: Madam and Yves

"Fashion," said Baudelaire, "is a sublime distortion of nature, or rather a constantly repeated attempt to reform nature." It also can be a means of understanding civilizations. The fortress of Victorian dress suggested much about the surrounding world's customs. So did the loose, low-cut flapper lines of the '20s, the Doris Day suburban look of the '50s and, in the '60s, the brash, youthful miniskirts, which gave way to pantsuits and jeans.

What, then, are social historians to make of the "revolution" that overwrought fashion editors were declaring last week (see MODERN LIVING) after Yves Saint Laurent revealed his fall collection?...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!