EVENT REVIEW: Lauren Laverne and Laura Craik: Style is Eternal

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Durham Book Festival
Sunday 11 October 2015
More information about the YSL Style is Eternal exhibition can be found on the Bowes Museum website []

Review by Annie-Rose Mears

Yves Saint Laurent once said: “Over the years I have learnt that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it”. On Sunday, the incredibly talented BBC 6 radio presenter Lauren Laverne and Laura Craik, fashion editor for The Evening Standard, talked about the YSL exhibition, Style Is Eternal, which is currently at the Bowes Museum.

Those who know of or appreciate Yves Saint Laurent’s clothing will be aware of the influence he has bestowed upon the fashion world. From a young age the designer was utterly obsessed with style. He would create beautiful, intricate paper cut outs of dolls and would design dresses for his mother and sisters. By the age of 18, Yves was in Paris pursuing his dream. He won an international design competition, beating rival Karl Lagerfeld, and then, later, worked for Christian Dior. Of course, Yves was to become one of the biggest names in fashion history.

Before Lauren and Laura took to the stage, we were shown a short from Lauren Laverne’s new website, The Pool, which launched back in March. In it, Lauren interviews the curator of the YSL retrospective at the Bowes Museum, Joanna Hashagen. Here, we had the event introduced to us. Joanna is so enthusiastic about the event that you begin to feel just as passionately as her by the end of the interview. She tells us about some of the beautiful garments that are on display, and also about the clothing that YSL introduced to the fashion world. Up until the 60s, women were only really seen in dresses or skirts. However, YSL was radical and he introduced the trouser suit for women. They were so sleek and elegant. Who knew those connotations could be given to a trouser suit?!

Lauren Laverne and Laura Craik went on to answer questions from the head lecturer of fashion at Northumbria University. What made this even more enjoyable, though, was that the questions didn’t feel like they were in an interviewing format. Instead, I was watching three people on stage who were incredibly passionate about fashion, talking about the one and only Yves Saint Laurent. One thing Laura Craik mentioned was the importance of the quality of clothing, and how we shouldn’t forget it. We seem to be in a world of disposable fashion now. We can pick up a high fashion-looking outfit on the high street for under £15. It is practically paper as, post wash, it just doesn’t seem to fit quite like it did before. And, yes, I’m talking about Primark!

What we must remember is the importance of quality and the timelessness of clothing. The things that are eternal! The staple smoker’s coat, the perfect LBD, the well-loved denim top. Those are the key pieces which will never leave our wardrobes. Laura Craik was also quizzed about what question she’d ask YSL, given the chance. She laughed and replied: “Did YSL love all women, or just the tall, skinny, beautiful ones?” But, of course, he probably would have just looked at her and simply sipped on his flute of champagne.

Before the event, I was a little bit apprehensive. The success that both Lauren Laverne and Laura Craik have achieved, and the prestigiousness of the YSL exhibition, made me feel like this may not be on my wavelength. However, this event wasn’t just for YSL fans. It was accessible to anyone and everyone. Any age group was gladly welcomed. Women, men and young ladies of all ages were sat in the room and the atmosphere was so lovely.

This event was amazing. If only I could purchase a YSL item now…. (Maybe when I’m rich and famous in the future!)

Annie-Rose Mears is a Reviewer in Residence at Durham Book Festival.

Reviewers in Residence is a Cuckoo Young Writers programme ,which allows young critics to develop an in-depth relationship with a venue or art form, and take part in exclusively tailored writing masterclasses.