I am by no means a fashionista. The fact that I went to a talk about the legendary designer Yves Saint-Laurent with a massive ladder up my tights proves the point.
I can’t remember the last time I stepped inside Topshop, and although I’ve been to some of the fashion capitals of the world, I would never have the guts to walk into Prada or Gucci. As you can see, I just press my nose up against the glass!
But I do love looking at beautiful clothes (and shoes) – and to answer one of the questions posed during the discussion, I do see fashion as art. How can you not?
I was delighted when my friend got me a ticket to the Style is Eternal event at this year’s Durham Book Festival, featuring broadcaster Lauren Laverne, former fashion editor Laura Craik and Chris Hodge, senior lecturer in fashion communication at Northumbria University.
Inspired by the current YSL: Style is Eternal exhibition at the Bowes Museum in Bishop Auckland, which I saw in July and loved, it started with a video intro of Lauren interviewing Joanna Hashagen, fashion curator at the museum.
The discussion that followed covered a variety of topics including YSL and his legacy, the evolution of a fashion brand, the future of couture, muses – and the Mail Online’s Sidebar of Shame.
Fortunately, I found a kindred spirit in Laura, who admitted she stopped wearing high heels when she had kids, thinking: “Why am I wearing these? I can’t get anywhere on time.”
She also said finding the perfect navy blue jumper was pretty much a full-time job, although the one I saw her wearing in the Market Place afterwards (with her children in tow) looked pretty good to me.
YSL, described by Laura as having “a really singular vision”, took control of the Dior fashion house in 1957, when he was just 21 – something she said would never happen now, due to commercial pressures.
He went on to launch his own fashion label with partner Pierre Berge and his iconic designs, which include the tuxedo suit, the peacoat, the sheer blouse and the jumpsuit, empowered women, while his catwalk shows celebrated diversity.
The exhibition is the first retrospective of his career, which spanned more than four decades, and incorporates pieces from the museum’s own collections.
The title comes from YSL’s famous quote: “Fashion fades, style is eternal.”
I quite liked Lauren’s comment on the difference between fashion and style. She said: “Fashion is dressing from the outside in. Style is dressing from the inside out. It is expressing who you are through your clothes.”
I probably express busy mum-of-two-who-dressed-in-the-dark from my daily uniform of jeans, top and cardigan, but maybe one day, I’ll get to at least don something from Zara!
YSL: Style is Eternal has extended its run until Sunday, November 8, after visitor numbers at the museum trebled in the last three months.