It was January of 1962 when a 26 year old designer of Algerian origin first presented his namesake collection to Parisian women. The brand, Yves Saint Laurent, was to become a pinnacle of style and French je-ne-sais-quoi which women everywhere would covet. I remember my own mother saving up her hard earned cash from work to purchase a YSL Rive Gauche black velvet bustier and red peasant skirt with black trim. It was the stuff fashionistas dreams were made of.
Most women today still pay homage to the great Algerian-French designer who settled in Marrakech to reconnect to his Maghreb roots in their everyday wear. From wrap dresses to pantsuits, to his signature tuxedo for women Saint Laurent invented a whole new way for women to dress and feel sexy, without giving anything up. He made fashion feminine yet kept the woman wearing his clothes in control of her destiny.
The exhibition will feature the late couturier’s creations displayed at six major Paris museums alongside some of the art works that inspired them. So his 1965 Mondrian dress will be shown alongside the Mondrian painting it references at the Pompidou Center, while his period-style polka-dot dress from 1986, shall be viewed next to fragments of Claude Monet’s version of “Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe” at the Musée d’Orsay.
Titled “Yves Saint Laurent Aux Musées” (“Yves Saint Laurent at the Museums”) the citywide show is scheduled to run from Jan. 29 to May 15.
While the designer’s life and business partner, Pierre Bergé made sure Saint Laurent’s legacy was preserved, with the creations of two permanent museums in Paris and Marrakech, and there have been two retrospective of the couturier's work in both NYC and Paris -- in 1983 and 2010 respectively -- this is the first time Saint Laurent will be honoured in such a wide-ranging way. Art always played such a huge part in this creative process and to see him alongside artists like Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso, while the Musée d’Orsay will also highlight the link between the designer and author Marcel Proust, promises to be something magical.
To get in the spirit of things, there is of course a wonderful documentary by Olivier Meyrou titled Celebration, about YSL's last fashion show in 2002, as his health was starting to deteriorate. You can watch it on Amazon.