Back at the Ranch with Yves Saint Laurent — 1958

by Paula Bosse

YSL_dfw_longhorn_1958YSL & friend (click for larger image) (photo: Eric Swecker)

by Paula Bosse

Even if you had no idea who the man with the glasses was, this would be an attention-grabber of a photo. But if you do happen to recognize the man as international fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent, then it’s even more of an attention-grabber. Yes, that is 22-year-old Yves Saint Laurent, head of the legendary House of Dior.

…In a pasture with a longhorn steer.

…Wearing a Stetson (or something Stetson-like).

..In Carrollton, Texas! What could be more unexpectedly perfect?

The UPI/Telephoto caption:

9/5/58-DALLAS: Yves-Mathieu Saint Laurent, 22-year-old master of the House of Dior, got a taste of Texas tradition on his first trip to the US. Saint Laurent, in Dallas to receive an award from Neiman-Marcus, stopped off at a cattle ranch near here before departing for France and was presented a Texas-style hat and introduced to a real “Texas Longhorn” steer.

YSL (who had not yet jettisoned the “Mathieu”) was the wunderkind fashion designer who — at the unbelievable age of 21 — had succeeded Christian Dior as Dior’s head designer. His first collection was a hit, and he was 1958’s fashion superstar.

That was the year that YSL was invited to Dallas by Stanley Marcus to receive the 21st Annual Neiman-Marcus Fashion Exposition Award — known throughout the industry as the “Fashion Oscar.”

He has had many offers to come to America to accept awards but the Dallas honor was the only one he accepted. He had a sentimental reason. His late master, Christian Dior, came to Dallas to accept the Neiman-Marcus award in 1947 after he had created the New Look in his second collection. (Dallas Morning News, Sept. 4, 1958)

While in Dallas, the young Saint Laurent — whom the fashion editor of The Dallas Morning News described as looking “like a serious young man who might be coming to enroll at SMU” — soaked up a little local color: he was taken to the Orleans Room downtown to see the Dixieland jazz band The Chain Gang, and — apparently at his request — he was taken to a Texas ranch.

Saint Laurent had been quite keen to see a real Texas ranch, so Stanley Marcus’ son Richard took him out to the nearby Josey Rancho — the large ranch owned by Dallas oilmen brothers Clint and Don Josey in then-rural Carrollton. The fashionably dressed, Cartier-watch-wearing dudes took a bumpy ride in a pickup truck across the large ranch, and there was much gawking of longhorn cattle and herds of buffalo. YSL seems to have enjoyed himself and must have found the whole thing very “Texan”: he got closer to a longhorn than I’d ever get (and he squatted like a real cowboy!), he watched some calf roping, and he ate some barbecue. And he was probably the most stylishly-dressed visitor the ranch ever had (there aren’t a lot of tailored suits and French cuffs out on the lone prairie).

He headed back to Paris later that afternoon with, I’m sure, plenty of exotic stories to share with those back at the atelier. He also had a new hat. And maybe some indigestion.


ysl_090458_stanley-marcus-papers_SMUvia Stanley Marcus Papers, SMU

josey-rancho-longhorns_lufkin-line-mag_1956Josey Rancho

josey-rancho-buffalo_1950sJosey Rancho

josey-rancho_aerial_pointer-bkJosey Rancho


Sources & Notes

Top photo by UPI/Telephoto. This wire photo is from the collection of my old friend Eric Swecker. Thank you for use of this fantastic photo, Eric!

Photo of longhorns at the Josey Rancho from a trade magazine called The Lufkin Line (Jan./Feb., 1956). Photo of Josey Rancho buffalo and the aerial photo are from the book Carrollton by Toyia Pointer, with photo credit given to Linda Sollinger; more on the book here. More information on the ranch from the book is here.

More on YSL’s visit can be found in the Dallas Morning News article “N-M Awardees Get Glimpse of Texas” by Gay Simpson (DMN, Sept. 6, 1958).

YSL wiki, here.

“When Coco Chanel Came To Dallas — 1957” — my post about Mlle. Chanel’s visit to Dallas to accept the previous year’s Neiman-Marcus award — is here. (Let’s hope Saint Laurent liked the BBQ more than Coco did.)


Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.