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This is one of the easiest modern styles to spot, and it has inspired the most iconic crossover between art and fashion. It’s called De Stijl, which in Dutch simply means “The Style.”


Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue, and Yellow, 1930, Kunsthaus, Zürich

Yves Saint-Laurent, Day Dress, fall / winter 1965 on French Vogue cover

De Stijl started in the Netherlands in 1917 as a new art and design movement. The main idea was to create a style that would be universal, based on simplicity and logic, a style for modern times. The result was the following characteristics, to be applied in painting, architecture and design:

-only straight, perpendicular lines

-only primary colors (red, blue and yellow) and black, white and gray

-only abstract forms

-no symmetry in composition

It was Theo van Doesburg, a painter, poet and architect, who founded the movement.

Theo van Doesburg, Composition VII: The Three Graces, 1917, Kemper Art Museum, Saint Louis

Theo van Doesburg, Simultaneous Composition XXIV, 1929, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven

Theo van Doesburg, Cornelis van Eesteren, Model Artist House, 1923, reconstruction 1982, Collection Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag — Source:

A prominent member of the movement from the beginning was Gerrit Rietveld, who produced the two best-known creations of De Stijl architecture and design:

Gerrit Rietveld, Red and blue arm chair, 1918

Gerrit Rietveld, Schröder House, 1924, Utrecht — UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000 — Source:

However, the most famous member of De Stijl is Piet Mondrian, whose paintings inspired Yves Saint-Laurent’s highly popular fall / winter 1965 collection.


iet Mondrian, Composition No. II, with Red and Blue, 1925-29, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue, and Yellow, 1930, Kunsthaus, Zürich

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Yellow, Blue, and Red, 1937–42, Tate Gallery, London

Yves Saint-Laurent, dresses from fall / winter 1965 collection in American Vogue

Mondrian’s work had already inspired designers to create bags, shoes and other accessories with a De Stijl look, and it continued to inspire them long after Saint-Laurent’s collection, for a great variety of products.

So, if it has straight lines arranged in squares or rectangles with only red, blue, yellow, black and white, chances are it’s De Stijl, or De Stijl-inspired.