Exhibition Review: ‘Yves Saint Laurent’

After his death in 2008, the Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation and Petit Palais chose to pay tribute to the legendary fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent, by collating over three hundred pieces of his work, creating a thematically structured display.

Sunday marked the last running day of ‘Yves Saint Laurent,’ a wonderfully constructed retrospective, held at Petit Palais, Mussee des Beaux-Arts, Paris. We were lucky enough to visit the exhibition whilst in Paris and were completely blown away by the inspirational beauty that was presented to us: A ballroom, featuring an elaborate swooping staircase was stage to an array of couture evening gowns whilst another whole room was dedicated to colour, displaying different shades and fabric swatches. Although black became a signature style of the fashion house, Saint Laurent was also a fabulous colourist, especially after his travels to Morocco, where he discovered the magic of colour.

As well as the couturiers achievements, the showcase also highlighted a brief collapse in Saint Laurent’s career, which was interesting for an exhibition that’s praise to his success. A collection with references to prostitution in pieces such as red satin corsets and platform shoes caused a stir in the fashion world and received much bad press in the early 70s. The media’s negative reactions were displayed at the exhibition with a wall completely covered with newspaper cuttings and quotes.

Yves Saint Laurent established his label with partner Pierre Bergé at the beginning of the swinging sixties (a revolutionary period for fashion) and continued to grow throughout the subsequent 3 decades. The exhibition illustrated this journey as well as focusing on key pieces and trends from each period, such as the famous pop art collection inspired by his meeting with Andy Warhol in ’66, his creation of the ‘Safari look’ and the female tuxedo; a style which Saint Laurent has become renowned for and something which he continued to develop through out his career.

Sarah Barlow and Kusheda Mensah