“One day, my name will be written in letters of fire on the Champs Elysees.”
How did a shy boy born in Oran, Algeria know that such a bold statement – far removed from the reality he currently lived – would someday come true? Because those were words spoken by Yves Saint Laurent, a designer known for creating magic.As I’m wont to do, I left it until the last weekend to visit the stunning Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the Petit Palais. When I say stunning you must know that’s no exaggeration. Why? Because I’m not big into fashion, I stood in line for an hour and a half in cold wind (autumn has arrived in Paris already), and I still declare that the exhibit was one of the best things I’ve ever waited for.
With over 300 of YSL’s 15,000 (!) creations on display – as well as videos, photographs, and insightful text – the exhibition had visitors floating amidst a world of beauty.
I had no idea how revolutionary YSL was. How he was the first designer to free women’s waists from constriction by creating trapeze dresses, the first to highlight a woman’s power and femininity by putting her in pants. At his first haute couture fashion show he created a scandal as he chose a caban and trouser outfit to begin.
“Women’s liberation is also the liberation of their seduction.” What woman wouldn’t want to slip into something that made her feel both sexy and free?
I’m not one to shop for expensive clothes. I swap old rags with friends, rummage in thrift stores. But passing one amazing outfit after another – mannequins draped in some sumptuous fabric, designs so boldly original or so instantly classic as to become standard bearers of style – definitely made me see how one could become a shopping fiend.Perhaps it was learning about his philosophy behind the work, too. With “aesthetic ghosts” as he called them ranging from Emma Bovary to Marilyn Monroe, Oscar Wilde to Anna Karenina, this was one smart man, an intelligence he cut into cloth.
In a room entitled “Imaginary Journeys,” I learned that YSL didn’t like to travel much, aside from frequent trips to Morocco. And yet somehow he traveled in his imagination to create dresses that reflected influences from across the world.
Or maybe YSL just had his own world. Yes, that’s it, too.
“I have always placed above all else the respect for this trade, which is not quite an art but requires an artist in order to exist.” The exhibition proved that an artist was truly at work.
All photos taken on the sly. I was scolded several times by security guards – cameras weren’t allowed! Sorry I was not able to capture all of the creations that truly inspired me, but you get the picture!
Yves Saint Laurent official site: http://www.ysl.com/