The art of Yves Saint Laurent: the design house celebrates its 60th anniversary | Yves Saint Laurent

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Simultaneous exhibitions to mark the 60th anniversary of Yves Saint Laurent’s first collection will be organized by six major Parisian museums in an unprecedented tribute from the art world to the late French fashion designer.

Events at the museums, including the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, will reveal how the famous couturier drew inspiration from some of the greatest artists of the 20th century, including Picasso, Matisse and Mondrian.

A set from the YSL fall / winter 1981 collection inspired by La Blouse Roumaine (1940) by Henri Matisse. Photography: Nicolas Mathéus / Estate of H. Matisse / Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, Paris

Mouna Mekouar, who organized the multi-center event that will showcase the designer’s work placed in the context of each institution’s permanent collections, said the participation of some of France’s largest and most renowned museums was unprecedented.

“I thought it would be impossible to get so many museums to embrace our idea, but they were all very interested and extremely enthusiastic from the start. This is the first time that they have all worked together on the same project, ”Mekouar said.

“Saint Laurent drew a lot of inspiration from art and this shows the links and dialogue between his work and the museum’s exhibitions. We didn’t want to put the clothes in a room, we wanted them there among the permanent collections.

YSL jacket from the spring / summer 1971 collection inspired by Made in Japan-La Grande Odalisque (1964) by Martial Raysse.
YSL jacket from the spring / summer 1971 collection inspired by Made in Japan-La Grande Odalisque (1964) by Martial Raysse. Photography: YVES SAINT LAURENT AT THE MUSEUMS

“Visitors will rediscover these collections while paying tribute to Yves Saint Laurent. It’s like a cultural archipelago.

Saint Laurent, who died in 2008 at the age of 71, was only 26 when he founded his haute couture house with businessman Pierre Bergé in December 1961. He had moved to Paris nine years earlier where his creations were quickly noticed and it was presented to Christian Dior. , then a giant in the fashion world.

Yves Saint-Laurent with models after his first haute couture show in Paris in January 1962.
Yves Saint-Laurent with models after his first haute couture show in Paris in January 1962. Photography: AFP

Yves Saint Laurent presented his first haute couture show on January 29, 1962.

“I believe that the work of a couturier is very similar to that of an artist. In fact, I have constantly found inspiration in the work of contemporary painters: Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian ”, Saint Laurent would later say.

“Always influenced by painting, I owe my collection of July 1966 to American painters like Wesselman, Roy Lichtenstein. All my dresses were lit with landscapes, moons and sun, ”he added.

A YSL jacket from the Fall / Winter 1979 collection inspired by the Portrait of Nusch Éluard (1937) by Pablo Picasso.
A YSL jacket from the Fall / Winter 1979 collection inspired by the Portrait of Nusch Éluard (1937) by Pablo Picasso. Photography: Picasso Estate – Copyright management / YVES SAINT LAURENT AUX MUSEUMS

“How to resist the pop art which was the expression of my youth.

The six museums participating in Yves Saint Laurent Aux Museums, which takes place from January 29 to May 15, are the Center Pompidou, the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, the Louvre Museum, the Orsay Museum, the Picasso Museum and the Yves Saint Laurent Museum.

Each will present different aspects of Saint Laurent’s work. At the Louvre, there will be some of his most exceptional clothes, including jackets embroidered with gold and crystals. At the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, Saint Laurent creations will echo the colors of artists Pierre Bonnard and Raoul Dufy. The Musée d’Orsay will present some of the evening outfits he created for the Proust Ball to mark the 100th birthday of the writer whose guests dressed by Saint Laurent included Baron Guy de Rothschild and Jane Birkin.

Yves Saint Laurent, photographed by Jeanloup Sieff in 1971.
Yves Saint Laurent, photographed by Jeanloup Sieff in 1971. Photograph: Estate of Jeanloup Sieff / Center Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist.

In total, 50 Saint Laurent creations will be presented as part of the exhibition as well as around 300 creations. At the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, visitors will be guided through the creation process, from sketches to finished garments.

Mekouar referred to the “dialogue” created by Saint Laurent between “art and literature” and said the designer expressed “an entire artistic universe” through his creations.

“It was not just a collection but his entire life’s work that was linked to art. It is about looking at Saint Laurent from the point of view of art. Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé were both great art collectors and this had a great influence on fashion designs, ”said Mekouar.

Headdress sketches made for the bal des Têtes mondain, 1956.
Headdress sketches made for the bal des Têtes mondain, 1956. Photograph: Jean-François Chavanne / MUSÉE D’ORSAY / YVES SAINT LAURENT AT THE MUSEUMS

“I think he would never have said he was an artist, but today with the connections between art and fashion, I think we can see Saint Laurent as a creative artist.”

Madison Cox, an American gardener who married Bergé shortly before the latter’s death in 2017, and who is president of the Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, said the exhibition was an extraordinary showcase “of the one of the greatest innovators in French fashion “.

“For Yves Saint Laurent, the fine arts have been an inexhaustible source of inspiration, embracing all cultures throughout history. This constant dialogue was a key part of the designer’s ingenuity and boundless creativity, ”Cox wrote.


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