Ever since Marie Antoinette commissioned "Les Petits Trianons" so that she might play the part of a simple country milkmaid, the rich have romanticized the lives of the poor. And no one has done that with more panache than Yves Saint... [more]
Ever since Marie Antoinette commissioned "Les Petits Trianons" so that she might play the part of a simple country milkmaid, the rich have romanticized the lives of the poor. And no one has done that with more panache than Yves Saint Laurent. In 1976, he launched his "Rich Peasant" look (so termed by sneering Marxists, the name stuck), a style that influenced fashions for the next several years.
It seems only appropriate that the look was originated by Saint Laurent. After all, he was the heir to Dior, who had revolutionized fashion after years of WWII-mandated yardage-stinginess with piles upon piles of gathered skirts. Saint Laurent's Peasant look likewise gobbled up yards of
fabric. The style was characterized by long dirndls, drawstring blouses, luxe fabrics, fur trim, and knee-high calfskin boots.
The Peasant style offered a softly gathered silhouette in deep earth tones, and as such was a response to the short, trim, garish geometric designs that had driven the '60s and early '70s. It encouraged layering, as vests, scarves, shawls, coats, and mixed prints were piled on. Not so much clothing as costume, the Peasant look was originally intended for evening, but it began to influence daywear as well. Its impact can be detected in later styles, such as the very layered but more menswear-inspired "Annie Hall" look of the late '70s and early '80s. By the mid-'80s, however, Reaganomics had rendered peasants poor and gauche again, and the look was abandoned in favor of more severely-tailored looks in brighter jewel tones.
In the late '90s, the Peasant look has enjoyed an updated revival, as another generation discovers the romantic appeal of the bohemian lifestyle. Once again, we're seeing boho-inspired drapery, gypsy embroidery, eastern influences, and luxe detailing. Indeed, peasants never had it so good. [show less]