I recently attended the preview of the Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective at San Francisco’s de Young Museum, and was absolutely spellbound by the finesse of the exhibition and the vast collection of the 130 Maison Haute Couture Yves Saint Laurent ensembles never before seen in the U.S. outside of the French house’s private archives. The exhibition celebrates his life’s work as a French couturier, as sadly, he passed away in June of this year, leaving behind a fashion legacy spanning four decades, and whose designs were so influential, that he helped redefine feminism as we know it today by modernizing the pantsuit, establishing its importance as a chic and socially acceptable fashion staple.
Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent’s partner in business and in life, was the keynote speaker at the exhibition’s preview. “I don’t know if fashion is art,” he said during an exceptionally touching speech about the designer and his métier, haute couture, calling Yves Saint Laurent an “artistic genius”. He was incredibly gracious to the de Young Museum and to San Francisco for hosting the exhibition, and interestingly enough was donning an Obama pin.
The exhibition is filled with color and vivacity thanks to the amazing talents of its curators, Florence Müller, Jill D’Alessandro, and Dianne Charbonneau. Their accessorizing of the exhibition is remarkable, and the jewelry selection in particular, is absolutely phenomenal. Organized in four parts, you are taken to the many different worlds, moods, and layers of the designer, captured in the following themes:
Masterful Pencil Strokes - This portion of the exhibition is dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent’s creative process, where you can see his sketches-turned-garments demonstrate his love for volume and draping.
The YSL Revolution – The YSL Revolution showcases Yves Saint Laurent’s master skill as a tailor, evidenced by streamlined pantsuits, shirtdresses, and sleek silhouettes.
The Palette – Here we have an explosion of colors; garments inspired by different parts of the continent; Africa, Asia, Russia, and Spain.
Lyrical Sources – These pieces are literally inspired by artists such as Dali and Van Gough, and are a magnificent sight in terms of their concept and immaculate detailing.
Yves Saint Laurent has always been my favorite designer. Intrigued by his boyish appearance, nervous demeanor, and perfectionist ways, his modern approach to style, cut, and silhouette was impeccable. He is not about spectacle, like some of the other couturiers. He is about elegance and a silent grace, luxury that doesn’t scream for attention, because it doesn’t need to, and his haute couture collections reflect this in as much as the licensed products bearing his name. Chanel gave women pants, and Yves Saint Laurent gave women the attitude to “wear the pants”, and always did so with class. For anyone who loves fashion, and particularly, haute couture, this exhibition is a must see.
Where: The de Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive in Golden Gate Park
When: Nov 1, 2008-April 5, 2009
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday and Sunday: 9:30 am-5:15 pm
Friday: 9:30 am-8:45 pm
Closed on Monday
Price: $20 Adults
$16 youths 13-17 and students with a college I.D.
Members and children 12 and under are free.
THE FIRST TUESDAY OF EVERY MONTH IS FREE!
*Muni riders with Fast Pass, transfer, or CultureBus ticket receive a $2 discount.
Value: Priceless for Yves Saint Laurent fans and fashion lovers.
Accessibility: Moderate – This is the only U.S. venue for this exhibition.
**Also check out the M.I.S.S. post about the coveted YSL totes from S/S 2009 New York Fashion Week and the latest YSL ready-to-wear collection designed by Stefano Pilati.
Enjoy and stay posted for more picks and tips to come soon!
- Yves Saint Laurent R.I.P.
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- “Voyages Extraordinaires” – YSL
- de Youg Museum X Nan Kempner
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