“Vogages Extraordinaires”, an exhibit of exquisite YSL creations featuring ethnic-inspired garments, opens tomorrow and runs through April 15. If you’re in Paris check it out!
When Yves Saint Laurent presented some two-dozen dresses inspired by African primitive art during the 1967 summer haute couture season, the couturier wrote the first chapter in his long and celebrated love affair with ethnic fashions.
The Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent Foundation will today lift the curtain on an exhibit that explores the finished product of this long-standing proclivity, one of the defining themes of Saint Laurent’s prodigious career.
“Voyages Extraordinaires” features about 60 of the retired designer’s most spectacular creations — from the memorable Ballet Russes show of 1976 that landed Saint Laurent on the cover of The New York Times, to confections informed by India, Spain, China, Japan and Morocco. Saint Laurent handpicked each of the dresses exhibited, and culled his archives to find a corresponding sketch, which will be published in the exhibit’s accompanying catalogue.
Yet despite the couturier’s exploration of the world’s diversity and romance, many of Saint Laurent’s exotic arabesques remained intensely interior voyages.
“He was an armchair traveler,” said Pierre Bergé, his partner, on Friday. “He did most of his traveling in his mind. He was and is a traveler of the imagination. He didn’t need to go outside his studio to be inspired.”
Born in Oran, Algeria, Saint Laurent was influenced by great cultural mélange in his youth. “Being raised in North Africa helped him not to become a prisoner to a Franco-French Parisian vision,” said Bergé. “It gave him a much richer regard on the world. Yves loves cultural diversity and he was really modern in that respect. Remember, he had a black mannequin de cabinet, starting in 1962.” Bergé added, “Yves’ great talent was to find inspiration in these cultures and to create modern clothes. He brought fashion into a wider cultural context.”
“Voyages Extraordinaires” will be inaugurated with a private dinner tonight. It will open to the public on Wednesday and run through April 15.
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