Yves Saint Laurent: 6 extraordinary exhibitions 60 years on

On a winter’s day many years ago, the world of couture was forever changed. On January 29, 1962, a young man presented the very first collection of his eponymous fashion house to the crowds of the Parisian sartorial sphere. Born in Oran in 1936, the precocious artist had already worked as head designer at the prestigious House of Dior, no less. His name was Yves Saint Laurent.

Following the end of his collaboration with Dior, Yves Saint Laurent founded his own company with his lover, Pierre Bergé.

How do we remember him?

The first collection presented in 1962 would be followed by many more throughout the decades. From haute couture to prêt à porter, Yves Saint Laurent’s vision, talent, and ideas influenced tremendously the way women dress and their relationship to clothes and style.

A pioneer, the French artist broke the barriers of gender and played with the fluidity between masculinity and femininity, by creating pieces such as ‘Le Smoking’ tuxedo suit for women.

From the iconic ‘Mondrian dress’ or the ‘saharienne jacket’ to lifelong collaborations with stars like Catherine Deneuve, Yves Saint Laurent became a main figure of the French cultural landscape.

The mythical couple he formed with his life and business partner Pierre Bergé embodied a powerful force in the fashion industry and beyond, building an empire whose name still resonates strongly nowadays, even after both men are gone.

An exposé of Yves Saint Laurent: 60 years on

Yves Saint Laurent
Paris 2022

To celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of his first collection, a vast exhibition named Yves Saint Laurent aux musée and curated by Mouna Mekouar is being held in six Parisian museums. All of these exhibitions differently commemorate the remarkable path he traced and his creativity, always in relation to the museums’ collections and/or other art forms, from which he was inspired. The connection between Yves St Laurent and museums appears as fundamental.

  • For example, at the Musée du Louvre,  wonderful Yves Saint Laurent garments will be exhibited inside the Galerie d’Apollon, showing his artistic inspirations,
  • whereas at the Musée d’Orsay, the visitors can observe the important part the literary universe of Marcel Proust has had had on Yves Saint Laurent’s creativity through the display of a few costumes designed for a In search of Lost Time themed  ball, as well as the display of sketches and drawings by the couture maestro.  
  • The Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris highlights the s dialogues skilfully  built by Yves Saint Laurent berween his creations and the great artists he admired such as Bonnard, for example.
  • At the Centre Pompidou, people can observe the correspondence between his creations and major art works of the 20th century.
  • To continue in the same vein, the Musée Picasso shines a light on the particular place the painter held in Yves Saint Laurent’s trajectory, the latter being fascinated by the former.
  • And, finally, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent has decided to exhibit exceptional  archive materials to introduce the audience to the various steps of  creating clothes at Yves Saint Laurent’s,  from beginning to end.

Immersion & rediscovering art forms and creations 

A unique and extensive exhibition taking place in six key museums of Paris to pay tribute to the great Yves Saint Laurent seems like a wonderful way to discover or rediscover his work, to understand the relationship between different art forms and his creations, and to witness the talent, the beauty, the intelligence, and the modernisation he brought onto the world of fashion, and more. 

Yves Saint Laurent aux musées, a must see!

Have you seen any of these exhibitions or do you have any other experiences to share with us? Please leave them in the comments below.

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Image credits:
1. Poster Yves Saint Laurent aux musée
2. All other images at Musée d’Orsay copyright Mélissa Serrano

About the Contributor

Mélissa Serrano

Québécoise and Spaniard, I grew up in Montreal. From writing to teaching and from studying in Paris to attending grad school in Brussels, French is at the heart of my life. I love acting, traveling, reading, chocolate, the sea, Serge Gainsbourg, Leonard Cohen, Marguerite Duras and thunderstorms.

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