Yves Saint Laurent’s outfits exhibited alongside works from six major museums

Starting this weekend, six Parisian museums will exhibit creations by Yves Saint Laurent to celebrate the house’s 60th anniversary.

Yves Saint Laurent’s dresses are included in the permanent collections of the Center Pompidou, Orsay, the Louvre and three other museums in Paris for an unprecedented celebration of the 60th anniversary of the house which highlights the artistic genius of the great couturier.

The official inauguration will take place simultaneously in the six places on January 29, the date on which, aged 26, the designer presented his first fashion show in 1962. The exhibitions will also be held at the Picasso museums and Modern Art, as well as at the Yves Saint Laurent Museum until May 15.

“The house has already celebrated so many birthdays. (…) I wanted to do something else,” Madison Cox, president of the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, told AFP.

Regularly celebrated

In 1983, Saint Laurent’s outfits entered the Metropolitan Museum in New York, making him the first couturier to be exhibited in a fine arts museum during his lifetime. In Paris, a major retrospective was dedicated to his work at the Petit Palais in 2010.

In 2022, “it would have been boring to find an empty space, make some scenography and furnish it with clothes. It was important to integrate them into the permanent collections”, underlines Madison Cox.

Treasure hunt

At the Center Pompidou, the route is indicated in a leaflet but the visit can become a treasure hunt: find a piece of Saint Laurent discreetly installed in the middle of works with which it dialogues like the famous Mondrian dress.

“There are dialogues explicitly claimed by Saint Laurent, but also visual comparisons that we have allowed ourselves” such as an orange dress with a full skirt with gyratory patterns placed in the middle of the kinetic paintings of Sonia Delaunay, explains to AFP Marie Sarré, from the modern collections department of the Center Pompidou.

According to her, this approach will bring other audiences to the museum, while Parisians who come mainly for the temporary exhibitions will thus rediscover the permanent collection.

Iconic jewel

Landscaper, Madison Cox wishes to show through these exhibitions “where ideas come from” for timeless creations whose modernity is striking. It is in the heart of the Salon de l’horloge at the Musée d’Orsay that dresses created for the Bal Proust for the Baroness de Rothschild and Jane Birkin.

On the other hand, a dress “which looks like it descended from ‘Déjeuner sur l’herbe'” by Manet and Monet cannot be presented, the brightness of the room being too aggressive for a fragile fabric.

In the Galerie d’Apollon at the Louvre, you will find the heart, a favorite jewel that Saint Laurent had designed in the 1960s and which he had worn by one of his muses in all his parades.

a certain time

While fine arts museums welcome clothing, the museum Yves Saint Laurent has chosen to exhibit the designer’s drawings, which “are appreciated as such”.

With 350 sketches of the models that the couturier had chosen for his last retrospective parade in 2002 at the Center Pompidou, “we have at a glance a synthetic vision of the work” of the couturier who was “an outstanding designer”, underlines Aurélie Samuel , heritage curator and director of the Yves Saint Laurent museum.

Once validated, the piece was cut out of cotton canvas before being finally made with a chosen fabric. Sometimes the finished product did not fall well.

“The piece was then removed from the collection and the parade. He was an artist: he made a first draft, it did not work, we do not redo”, says Aurélie Samuel.

During the entire preparation of the collection, which lasted a month and a half, all the canvases were retouched on a living model, “which is no longer done today”. “Each canvas was designed on a model that has hips, buttocks, breasts, a woman in fact. Today, models do not have shapes to fit into all the clothes and be hired by as many houses as possible “, according to Aurélie Samuel.

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