YSL x 2 (Yves Saint Laurent, Yes, So Lovely)

Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the Petit Palais

“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.

YSL's Imaginary Journeys

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.

YSL evening wear

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.

YSL trapeze dresses

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.

YSL photographs

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/

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16 Responses to “YSL x 2 (Yves Saint Laurent, Yes, So Lovely)”


  1. 1 Lee Isbell August 31, 2010 at 1:06 am

    Such good pictures for on the sly. I didn’t have the nerve …
    It was also cold waiting in May, and a little bit of rain. Has Paris had a warm patch this summer?

    • 2 paris (im)perfect August 31, 2010 at 11:58 am

      Hi there. Thanks! I risked the wrath of the security guards just for you folks :)

      As for Paris weather, that’s a very sore subject for us around here. Um, no, Paris never really had a warm patch this summer. A few nice days strung together every once in awhile, but nothing I’d call “summer.” We were cheated!

  2. 3 Lindsey August 31, 2010 at 8:40 am

    I’m so peeved I didn’t get to see it :( Glad you liked it!

  3. 5 Sweet Freak August 31, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Ohhh… je suis triste. I tried a couple times to go but was deterred by the line. Now I’m really kicking myself.

    You must read “The Beautiful Fall” with this fresh in your mind – great, great book about YSL & Lagerfeld!

    • 6 paris (im)perfect August 31, 2010 at 12:00 pm

      Hey Amy. Yeah, the line definitely looks intimidating. I “only” had an 1 1/2 wait. I heard on Sunday it was up to 3 hours! Well worth it in my book, though (although, I probably wouldn’t have lasted for the 3-hour wait).

      Thanks for the book recommendation. I will check it out!

  4. 7 Paris Paul P August 31, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    I’m with you about waiting in line to see a fashion exhibition, but your lovely writing is making me doubt myself. Excellent job with the photos on the sly!

    • 8 paris (im)perfect August 31, 2010 at 10:01 pm

      Thanks, Paul. Believe me, I’m surprised I was so into this, too. (You met me – not really a fashion diva, am I?) :)

      But I really adored this exhibit. Glad I got some sly snaps to show you a bit!

  5. 9 Res September 1, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    I went a few months and was fascinated by the creation. But what really struck me was how modern some pieces were, while others were downright dowdy – and it had nothing to do with what year they were designed in. Seemed to me like he always had two very different women in mind.

    • 10 paris (im)perfect September 2, 2010 at 10:12 pm

      Interesting observation. Two very different women…hmm. Haute couture vs pret-a-porter? Or did you notice the chic/dowdy in both? Anyway, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at any YSL creation given to me. Even dowdy, I might be able to rock :)

  6. 11 Jodie September 2, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    The most amazing thing I thought was that nothing, I mean really nothing in all of YSL collections has dated! Everything that he has ever done is so elegant it can still be worn today!
    I don’t know if we can say that he was the one who made fashion what it is today or just simply no one can compare!

  7. 12 Jodie September 2, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    For more information on YSL, one of the best reads is “The Beautiful Fall” by Alicia Drake

  8. 14 lilian September 7, 2010 at 8:47 am

    i was dying to see this last month in paris but only had one day left and opted for a picnic at the bois de boulogne. so sad! the exhibit looks stunning!


  1. 1 White Nights, Art in the City « paris (im)perfect Trackback on October 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm

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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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