Paris has been reinventing itself over the past year and is more alive (and refined) than ever. The unveiling of the Yves Saint Laurent Museum comes in timely fashion, as 2018 marks YSL Beauty’s 40th anniversary.

By: Christine-Elizabeth Laprade

Photo: Luc Castel

The museum is set in a 16th arrondissement, haute-couture house, the very same place where the legendary designer used to work on his whimsical collections, from 1974 to 2002. The former hotel particulier is also home to the Foundation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent headquarters.

Upon walking through the massive entrance doors and making your way up the elegant staircase lined with a sandy rug, you’ll find yourself in a posh, ethereal dimension. This includes: black lacquered walls, a cream-coloured podium, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, and dimly lit rooms leading to a total of 50 of Yves Saint Laurent’s most legendary haute couture creations. You’ll also come across runway video clips, sketches, the original YSL logo drawing, haute joaillerie, and a YSL wedding dress. The top floor houses Saint Laurent’s very own cabinet of curiosities, The Atelier, which is filled with fabrics, beads, needles and thread, hand-written post-its, and a few iconic portraits of the quintessential French designer. Set in a remarkably dramatic and intimate, yet incredibly posh display, the YSL museum offers a glimpse into the world of the fashion virtuoso and therefore constitutes a must-see for any fashion aficionado.

Yves Saint Laurent started as a Christian Dior assistant, but quickly became a successor and given the nickname “Le Petit Prince de la Mode,” becoming the youngest couturier at the head of a couture house in the entire world. He was only 21 years old! Labelled a rebel and too avant-garde, YSL decided to open his own couture house with Pierre Bergé in 1961. His inspiration mostly came from reading and his knowledge of the arts. Amongst the fashion deity’s inspirations are people like his close friend Andy Warhol, but also art legends like Van Gogh, Matisse, and Picasso.

The couturier paid tributes to other cultures with his own unique spins, and embraced his travel fantasies, which is clearly shown in his African collection from 1977. “My most beautiful travels were through books read on my couch, in my living room,” famously noted Saint Laurent. His collections are filled with influences from places like Morocco, Russia, Spain, and Asia. Saint Laurent had an infamous and highly publicized love affair with Morocco, which eventually became his ultimate creative (and real-life) retreat. The usage of vibrant colors in his collections is a true testament to his real and imaginary travels.

The first section of the exhibit brings together the designs that have come to define the signature style that Saint Laurent cultivated throughout his career. Many of those designs borrow cues from the male wardrobe, adapted to the woman’s curves. Saint Laurent kept the cuts slim, with a more defined silhouette, while maintaining the practical aspects and comfort of menswear pieces. The YSL signature look embodies the ultimate vision of femininity, simplicity, and elegance. Transgressing traditional clothing norms and overturning the conventions surrounding seduction were his craft, and he was a master.

Photo: Luc Castel

YSL’s most iconic pieces include the camel trench coat, the Mondrian dress, a slim jumpsuit, and the timeless, yet notorious, le smoking suit in a satin shawl lapel.

YSL’s legacy will never fade from fashion. Fast forward to 2018, and its patent leather pumps are infamous, the YSL bags are hotter than ever, and its eponymous beauty line has a massive cult following. Even a decade after his death, YSL has never been so omnipresent.

Musée Yves Saint Laurent

Inaugural display until September 9, 2018

5 Avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris, France

 

Photo: Luc Castel

Photo: Luc Castel

Photo: Luc Castel

 

Photo: Luc Castel

Photo: Luc Castel

Photo: Luc Castel

Comments