Yves Saint Laurent museum opens in Paris

Culture

Yves Saint Laurent in Paris

Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008) is remembered as one of the greatest couturiers in the history of fashion. Now two museums chronicling his career will open in October 2017, one in Paris and another one Marrakesh. The Parisian Musée Yves Saint Laurent, located in the building where he spent nearly 30 years designing his collections, opens on October 3.

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A legendary address

The legendary hôtel particulier located at 5 avenue Marceau, in Paris, used to be Yves Saint Laurent's work studio. The building has served as the headquarters of the Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent since 2004. The foundation owns over 5,000 pieces of garments, original design sketches and other works by Saint Laurent.

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The highlights of a career

As a genuine pioneer, Saint Laurent was the only designer of his generation to archive his work since establishing his haute couture house. The inaugural show in Paris displays roughly 50 designs, alongside accessories, sketches, photographs and videos.

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Walls of works

Haute couture and ready-to-wear accessories were collected at the same time as the clothes. These included jewelry, scarves, hats, headdresses, gloves, shoes, handbags and flowers. The exhibition features his most emblematic designs, from the tuxedo to the safari jacket, and from the jumpsuit to the trench coat.

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Elaborate sketches

Producing an haute couture collection was a long and complicated process. It began with a sketch, and every step that followed led to the elaboration of further documents allowing the ateliers to create both the prototype and the designs ordered by clients. These sketches feature his collection from Spring/Summer 1962.

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Sketching Le Smoking

The original sketches were made by Saint Laurent and later handed to the chef d'atelier. Saint Laurent, a prolific draftsman, sometimes made hundreds of drawings for a collection. This drawing shows a version of one of his most iconic designs: Le Smoking, the first tuxedo for women, which he created in 1966.

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In dialogue with the arts

The museum visit includes a look at Saint Laurent's deepest inspirations. Many figures haunt his body of work, acting as what Friedrich Nietzsche referred to as "aesthetic phantoms" whom Yves Saint Laurent continually pursued, such as Louis Jouvet, Marcel Proust, Jean Cocteau, Richard Wagner and Henri Matisse. This dress was a tribute to Picasso's costume designs for the ballet "Parade."

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The purity of Mondrian's lines

For its opening exhibition, the museum explores Saint Laurent's dialogue with Pablo Picasso, as well as with painters Piet Mondrian and Vincent Van Gogh. In 1965, Saint Laurent designed six cocktail dresses inspired by the paintings of Piet Mondrian. The couturier once said of the painter, "The masterpiece of the 20th century is a Mondrian."

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Spirit on a desk

The work table that belonged to Saint Laurent since 1962 still bears his personal objects like fabric swatches, embroidery samples and photos, evoking the atmosphere that inspired him during the preparation of a collection. He found inspiration in art, literature, theater and music, as well as in foreign cultures, designing dresses with influences from Africa, Russia, Spain, China and India.

The famous designer spent nearly 30 years working in his Parisian studio. Yves Saint-Laurent's couture house is now opening to the public, providing insight into his influences and how he worked.