• Zeïna M. Christ

Yves Saint Laurent; a time travel from Haute Couture house to Fondation.

Updated: May 13, 2019

In 2002, The Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent, a true extension of the haute couture house, was established. It primarily seeks to conserve and promote Yves Saint Laurent’s work by preserving haute couture and ready-to-wear clothing and accessories, preparatory sketches for the collections, relevant documents, and various drawings and objects related to Saint Laurent’s body of work. It also seeks to organise exhibitions devoted to fashion, painting, photography, the decorative arts, contemporary art, and Saint Laurent’s work in both its own exhibition spaces and at outside institutions In France and abroad. We had the opportunity to visit this wonderful museum, so sit back, grab a coffee, and let us take you into in a time travel at Paris, in1965...

Piet Mondrian through Yves Saint Laurent's eyes

The autumn-winter 1965 collection was shown on August 6. Although it was partially finished a month before, Yves Saint Laurent decided to redesign part of it because he thought it lacked modernity. He drew inspiration from Michel Seuphor's 1956 book Piet Mondrian, Sa vie, son oeuvre, which his mother had given him. Twenty-six of the collection's 106 designs were inspired by the works of painter Piet Mondrian (1872-1944). This empathic hommage, which turned painting into an animate work of art, marked a significant moment in the history of fashion. Mondrian himself perhaps felt this evolution coming when he declared, "Not only does fashion accurately reflect an era, it is also one of the more direct forms of visual expression in human culture" (Revue Hein, Septembre 1931).

Creating a veritable revolution in fashion, Saint Laurent explained his approach as emerging out pf a strong desire to create dresses that were not only made up of lines but which were also composed of colors. In his view, fashion had to stop being stiff and move. He decided to dress his era in clothes that were almost abstract, using simple, perfectly proportioned silhouettes. Their technical achievement lay in the combination of jersey squares that were inlaid in a way that was imperceptible to the naked eye.

These dresses were intended to be "dazzling and perpetually moving, like colored mobiles" (Patrick Thévenon, "Le couturier qui a pensé aux femmes d'aujourd'hui", Candide, August 15, 1965).

The Mondrian dress was so successful that it was heavily copied, especially in the United States. The immediate global attention it received contributed to both the couturier's and the painter's fame. At the time, French museum collections did not hold many works by Mondrian, and his fist retrospective run Paris was not organized until 1969. Today, fashion designers continue to seek design inspiration from the later works by this artist.

The current exhibition goes from the origin and effervescence of the Mondrian dress that has inspired the global fashion industry and other YSL's artwork.

Illustrations were sketches of the collection made by illustrators at the haute couture's house studio after the fashion show. Some of them were sent to clients so they could choose the design they wanted to try on while other were sent in the fittings rooms.

In the 1960's the haute couture commissioned press kit photos. Here, these posed shots were taken at the haute couture house and in the neighborhood streets. Taken a few days before the fashion show. It was formally forbidden publish before August, 30, 1965.

The museum is small but it worth the visit. From a small film showing the relation he had with Pierre Bergé, lover and associate to the iconic through his unwearable but yet impressive garnements to the iconic Yves Saint Laurent dresses, the museum had enough magic to made us travel in time and keep us the memory of a legendary artist.

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