Brave New Word : Gauche

The word "gauche" was familiar. At first I thought maybe it just looked like "guacamole".  But, it came to me later in the day : Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche.

Gauche means uncouth, lacking in social grace. What could the creator of Le Smoking jacket possibly have to do with inelegance? 

Well, it seems I got my wires crossed somewhere in the French meaning and English translation. Rive Gauche simply means "left bank", referring to the left bank of the river Seine in Paris. It was a home to Picasso and Fitzgerald - where Hemingway lived his poor, but happy life in A Movable Feast. It was a bohemian epicenter.

Yves Saint Laurent must have been nodding to this history when he adopted the name Rive Gauche for his ready-to-wear line. He was the first couture designer to democratize high-fashion.

Though, as YSL once said "We must never confuse elegance with snobbery."

[(1) Freehand script by Samantha Shorey.  Stick and ink, with Higgin's black]


  1. Hilarious story that I know you'll appreciate: We went to this really nice restaurant in Chicago once after a Broadway show, and when the waiter had to reach across me to grab my drink, he goes (in this really melodramatic snobby accent): "Paaaardon me for being so gauche, Miss. After all: This isn't Bennigan's."

    I will never, ever forget what that word means! Haha xo

  2. Laura : That is absolutely hilarious! At the restaurant where I work, when we run out of our steel water pitchers and have to use the tacky plastic ones we always say "Welcome to Denny's". I want to add "Paaaardon me".


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