Yves Saint Laurent citywide exhibition opens in Paris

The retrospective moves across six different venues around the city, with art imitating fashion and vice-versa, playing tribute to the Parisian icon who was born in Algeria.
Yves Saint Laurent citywide exhibition opens in Paris

If you go into a museum these days in Paris, don't be surprised to find fashion alongside art. There is an ongoing citywide exhibition taking place which features designer Yves Saint Laurent's work across decades. Co-curated by the Moroccan-born Mouna Mekouar, the exhibition pairs works of art with the fashions they inspired made by the iconic YSL.

The exhibition is titled 'Yves Saint Laurent aux musée', and it pays homage to a man who was as much a quintessential Parisian as a North African at heart. In his complete worldly style, Saint Laurent the man lived in Paris but also had a home in Marrakech, which these days has been turned into a stunning museum.

YSL portrait by Andy Warhol

The main part of the exhibition in Paris takes place at his maison, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris while the other 5 venues where his work is displayed through the 8th September 2022 are the Centre Pompidou, National Museum of Modern Art, Musée national Picasso-Paris, Musée d’Orsay e Musée du Louvre.

Pierre Bonnard's,'Le jardin' and two looks from the YSL SS 2001 collection

In a Vogue Italia interview, Mekounar said about YSL: "His fashion is closely linked to the art world: not only was he fascinated by artworks, but he worked like a true artist, always in search of perfection and in total freedom." It was Yves Saint Laurent who invented the tuxedo for women, and for a fashionista, there is no more liberating red carpet look than that. But also no way to appear more fashionable, and be comfortable at the same time.

Yves Saint Laurent was born to French parents in Oran, French Algeria on August 1st, 1936. Introduced to Christian Dior by then French Vogue editor Michel De Brunhoff, Saint Laurent found himself head designer of the Dior maison in 1957, at the young age of 21, after Monsieur Dior died of a heart attack while at a health spa in Italy. While his first collection there was met with acclaim, his Fall 1958 line was criticised, which brought on a set of circumstances that saw the young Saint Laurent go into the army, fired from Dior, admitted into a military hospital and drugged. In 1962, after having sued Dior for breach of contract, Saint Laurent along with partner Pierre Bergé founded the brand Yves Saint Laurent YSL with funds from American millionaire J. Mack Robinson. The rest as they say, is history. Saint Laurent passed away in Paris in 2008 at the age of 71.

"Fashions fade, style is eternal." -- YSL

For this exhibition, every museum in Paris holds a different side of Saint Laurent's relationship with art. In her Vogue interview Mekounar explains that "the couturier is shown at the Center Pompidou as an artist fully immersed in the twentieth century; for the National Museum of Modern Art we brought rhythms and colors, lights and materials of his fashions; at the Musée National Picasso-Paris the deep connection with Picasso's art will shine forth." She continues "the imaginary dialogue between the creations of Yves Saint Laurent and the work of Marcel Proust is staged at the Musée d'Orsay: the designer was deeply fascinated by his literature."

Mondrian inspired fashions by YSL photographed with paintings by the artist

So art, fashion and finally even literature meet in the resplendent setting of the City of Light, through the works of a master of his trade, a couturier with an eye for the future and an understanding of the past.

For more info on the citywide exhibition, and to get tickets to access all the venues, check out the Yves Saint Laurent Museum website.

Header image of Martial Raysse's 'Made in Japan - La grande odalisque' at the Centre Pompidou and the YSL green fur from SS 1971 collection it inspired.

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