The art of Yves Saint Laurent: design house marks 60th anniversary | Yves Saint Laurent

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

The events at museums, among them the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay, will reveal how the celebrated couturier was inspired by some of the 20th century’s greatest artists including Picasso, Matisse and Mondrian.

An ensemble from the YSL autumn/winter 1981 collection inspired by Henri Matisse’s La Blouse Roumaine (1940). Photograph: Nicolas Mathéus/Succession H. Matisse/Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, Paris

Mouna Mekouar, who curated the multi-centre event that will feature the designer’s work placed in the context of each establishment’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 agree to our idea, but they were all very interested and hugely enthusiastic from the beginning. It is the first time they have all worked together on one project,” Mekouar said.

“Saint Laurent was very much inspired by art and this shows the links and dialogue between his work and the museum exhibits. 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 Martial Raysse’s Made in Japan-La Grande Odalisque (1964).
YSL jacket from the spring/summer 1971 collection inspired by Martial Raysse’s Made in Japan-La Grande Odalisque (1964). Photograph: YVES SAINT LAURENT AUX MUSÉES

“In this way visitors will rediscover those collections at the same time as paying homage to Yves Saint Laurent. It’s like a cultural archipelago.”

Saint Laurent, who died in 2008 aged 71, was just 26 when he founded his haute couture house with the businessman Pierre Bergé in December 1961. He had moved to Paris nine years previously where his designs quickly gained notice and he was introduced to Christian Dior, then a giant in the fashion world.

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

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

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

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

A YSL jacket from the autumn/winter 1979 collection inspired by Pablo Picasso’s Portrait of Nusch Éluard (1937).
A YSL jacket from the autumn/winter 1979 collection inspired by Pablo Picasso’s Portrait of Nusch Éluard (1937). Photograph: Succession Picasso – Gestion droits d’auteur/YVES SAINT LAURENT AUX MUSÉES

“How could I resist pop art that was the expression of my youth.”

The six museums taking part in Yves Saint Laurent Aux Musées, which runs from 29 January to 15 May, are the Centre Pompidou, the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, the Musée du Louvre, Musée d’Orsay, Musée Picasso and the Musée Yves Saint Laurent.

Each will feature different aspects of Saint Laurent’s work. At the Louvre there will be some of his most exceptional garments, including jackets embroidered with gold and crystals. At the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, Saint Laurent designs will echo the colours of the artists Pierre Bonnard and Raoul Dufy. The Musée d’Orsay will feature some of the evening wear 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/Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI, Dist.

A total of 50 Saint Laurent creations will be on display as part of the exhibition as well as about 300 designs. At the Yves Saint Laurent museum, visitors will be taken through the creative process from sketch to finished garment.

Mekouar spoke of the “dialogue” Saint Laurent created between “art and literature” and said the designer expressed “a whole artistic universe” through his creations.

“It wasn’t just one collection but his whole life’s work that was linked to art. It’s about looking at Saint Laurent from the perspective of art. Both Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé were great collectors of art and this had a great influence on the fashion designs,” Mekouar said.

Sketches of headdresses made for the high-society Bal des Têtes, 1956.
Sketches of headdresses made for the high-society Bal des Têtes, 1956. Photograph: Jean-François Chavanne/MUSÉE D’ORSAY/YVES SAINT LAURENT AUX MUSÉES

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

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

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

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2022/jan/01/the-art-of-yves-saint-laurent-design-house-marks-60th-anniversary

 

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