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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Yves Saint Laurent Exhibition: Where Genius meets Haute Couture

Thanks to France’s first lady and former model, Madame Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and in association with the Foundation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent; the YSL exhibition ( http://www.yslretrospective.com/)   is the first retrospective of Yves Saint Laurent’s 44-year long reign in fashion.

The exhibit consists of over 300 haute couture and prêt-à-porter models, with a selection of unique pictures, sketches, and films making this one of the finest the exhibition in fashion history. The exhibition takes you through forty years of wearable art that empowered women with bold, self-confidence and an unapologetic sense of sensual freedom. He was known as the “Prince of Fashion,” but he was the king when it came to haute couture.

The exhibit opened in March, but there is a two-and-a-half hour wait even if you have your ticket. The exhibit will be there until August if you care to jet over to Paris to see it. Whether you’re a lover of fashion, film, or art, or whether you just appreciate the beautiful things in life; Yves Saint Laurent was able to inspire, ignite, and titillate for over 40 years through his unique and masterful fashion creations.

Bruni-Sarkozy, who wore and modeled his creations wrote, “He created an inspired, vivid universe that overturned conventions and conformity. With Saint Laurent, art became fashion — and fashion an art.”

The exhibit begins with his career with Dior in 1958, where in his first year as art director, he was able to make Dior’s iconic “new look” appear old fashioned by contrast with his liberating “Trapeze” collection. A replica of his studio is there with original furniture on loan. It is here you see his love affair with art and the mutually beneficial relationship they shared: He took inspiration from the great masters of art, while giving back masterpieces of his own art to the world.

Mondrian, Picasso, Matisse, Van Gogh, were not his only inspirations. His bold exotic collections inspired by faraway lands turns the exhibit into a section from a museum of the ages. The famous Mondrian shift dress that was featured on the cover of Vogue in 1965 and on the wish lists of girls from Paris to India, stands in the corner of this haute couture room, next to his first African collection (1967) and his “Lalanne” dresses that are abayas with head scarves, embellished with a bust and waist sculpture of galvanized copper (1969) and inspired by his favorite vacation spot, Morocco.

Saint Laurent was able to change fashion and set trends. For Fall-Winter 1965 Saint Laurent created a line of Piet Mondrian and Poliakoff inspired dresses. In an interview regarding his collection, the designer said he was flipping through a book of Mondrian when he predicted 1965 fashion. “I suddenly realized that dresses should no longer be composed of lines, but of colors. I realized that we had to stop conceiving of a garment as sculpture and that, on the contrary, we had to view it as mobile,” said Saint Laurent.

This ability to revolutionize fashion was apparent in his Le Smoking collection. This collection takes the male tuxedo and reinterprets it for the female form. This forever altered the conventions of formal eveningwear by introducing pants into the female wardrobe and blurring the lines of gender. . Saint Laurent often played with the male evening suit and his iconic safari jacket of 1966 that was seductively redesigned from classic safari attire.

One section of the exhibit is devoted to the wardrobe of actress Catherine Deneuve, who wore Yves Saint Laurent religiously, both on and off screen. Deneuve was even the face of his perfume, “Opium”. Luis Bruñel’s provocative film, “Belle de Jour,” (1966) showcased his flair for sophisticated bourgeois fashion with the precise tailoring of his envy-inducing black ciré trench coat.
You will see ornate evening gowns that range all the way to his last collection in 2002 showing his muses of Hollywood glamour (Marylyn Monroe), European sophistication (Duchess of Windsor) and American androgyny (Marlene Dietrich and Lauren Bacall).

All of his creations come alive and the movement is apparent on the still, white mannequins. By the end of the fifteen-room exhibition, you will become enchanted by opulent craftsmanship and innovative foresight of probably one of the most talented designer/artist who has ever lived. From tunics and pea coats, to jumpsuits and tuxedos, he is the man behind every cut or sketch in fashion. Yves Saint-Laurent once famously stated, “I’ve always had the highest of respect for this profession, which isn’t an art form per se, but which needs an artist in order for it to exist.”

Please visit http://www.yslretrospective.com/ to soak up all of the vintage glamour if you can’t jump on the next jet to Paris. It is a trip that you will not want to miss if you love vintage clothing and excellent craftsmanship and innovative vision

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