Design by Yves Saint Laurent / © Alexandre Guirkinger
YSL's designs based on men's garments revolutionised women's fashion
Once gain, all eyes are on Yves Saint Laurent. Or, more accurately, on the "Extraordinary Voyages" exhibition, which the Petit Palais museum, just a few steps from the Champs Elysees in Paris, is hosting to pay tribute to the forty years of creativity of this fashion genius who died in 2008.
This, the first retrospective of the great designer's life and work, and the largest exhibition dedicated to YSL in nearly three decades, started in Montreal in 2008 and now comes to the French capital from San Francisco. Drawing together more than 300 outfits from one of the most influential figures in fashion history, through the designs themselves, complemented by photos and films, the exhibition recreates the path and progress of his career. It covers the complete story, from the first collection for Christian Dior in the Fifties, though the famous 1958 'Trapeze' collection, and on to his final show, which was presented at the Pompidou Centre in 2002.
The exhibition is divided into four main themes covering different aspects of the designer's legacy: The Stroke of a Pencil presents the original drawings on which Saint Laurent based his designs; The Yves Saint Laurent Revolution showcases the most innovative designs in his collection, such as the gender revolutionary versions of men's garments re-designed for women; The Palette investigates the designer's use of colour; finally, Lyrical Sources, which closes the show, highlights the sources of inspiration from literature and contemporary art that the master used to create his avant-garde designs; the mythical designs were inspired by such artists as Mondrian, Picasso, Van Gogh and Matisse, with the bold bright colours of the Mondrian cocktail dress, 1965, offering a perfect example.
Yves Saint Laurent is undoubtedly one of the great icons of fashion, whose designs marked a paradigm shift as far as femininity and elegance were concerned and marked the beginning of contemporary design. He completely revolutionized women's wardrobes with the innovative outfits inspired by menswear, such as the tuxedo, the trouser suit and the safari suit, bringing a breath of fresh air into the stifling atmosphere of haute couture.