This brooch is from the famous French fashion label Yves Saint Laurent.  In the 1980s there was a revival of costume jewellery, inspired by the accessories in the glamorous USA soap operas of the time – Dallas and Dynasty.  Who can forget Sue Ellen Ewing and her outrageous clip earrings, which she removed every time she answered the telephone!  But by the end of the decade there was a reaction and rejection of oversized costume jewellery, discreet diamond studs and pearls were the order of the day.  Recently though, the chunky styles of the1980s are making a comeback, several fashion blogs and columns have featured articles on ‘how to achieve the 1980s look’.


Actress Linda Gray first played Sue Ellen in Dallas in 1978


Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent was born in 1936 in French Algeria.  At the age of 17, he moved to Paris and enrolled at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, (French Federation of Fashion and of Ready-to-Wear Couturiers and Fashion Designers) – the governing body for the French fashion industry.  The fashion school was created in 1927 and is still running today, courses can be done online as well as in Paris in their ultra-modern building on the banks of the River Seine.

The École de la chambre syndicale de la couture parisienne in Paris

Saint Laurent’s designs were quickly noticed and Michel De Brunhoff, the then editor of French Vogue, introduced him to Christian Dior.  He was offered a job at Dior and in 1957 at the age of 21 Saint Laurent found himself head designer at the House of Dior, following the unexpected death at 52 of Christian Dior.  His spring collection in 1958 was a critical success, but his 1959 collection did not find favour with the press and a year later he found himself conscripted into the French army and was sent to fight in the Algerian War (1954 to 1962).   The military did not suit Saint Laurent and after only 20 days he was admitted to a military hospital suffering from what would these days be called PTSD.

Back in Paris, Saint Laurent founded his own fashion label in 1962 at the age of 26 with his partner Pierre Vital Georges Bergé.  They had met in 1958, became lovers, the couple split amicably in 1976 and remained lifelong friends and business partners.  During the 1960s and 1970s YSL popularised many notable fashion trends – safari jackets for men and women, thigh-high boots, the tuxedo suit for women known as ‘Le Smoking’ (1966) and the Mondrian collection (1965).

The famous Mondrian Dress from 1965

In 1993, the Saint Laurent fashion house was sold to the pharmaceuticals company Sanofi, but the label is still going and today there are stores worldwide. Saint Laurent died on 1 June 2008 of brain cancer in Paris.

Saint Laurent aged 22 in 1958

Saint Laurent famously said, “fashions fade, style is eternal”.  I’m regularly told ‘brooches aren’t fashionable’, but I wouldn’t been seen without one.  This quote suits me down to the ground!