Yves Saint Laurent at Petit Palais

Until August the Musée des Beaux Arts at the Petit Palais has its first ever exhibition dedicated to haute couture; it is fitting then, that it should be a retrospective of the work of a man who embodied the ideal of fashion designer as artist like no other, France?s beloved last great couturier: Yves Saint Laurent.

Charting his lifetime?s work through a selection of over 300 original creations, from his beginnings at Dior, through the height of his experimentalism during the 70s, to his later refined exoticism; the exhibition celebrates the astounding range and beauty of his accomplishment, both technical and artistic.
Displayed alongside contemporary films, photographs and drawings, the work is placed in its proper cultural and historical context. It is evident that Yves Saint Laurent had an incredible capacity to draw inspiration from everything and anything – from 19th century theatre, Mondrian canvases, and Moroccan spice markets to kids on the streets of Saint Germain des Prés. Original sketches and images from his atelier prove that he saw himself above all as a craftsman, working obsessively hard to master the tools of his trade, with a deep understanding and respect for form, fabric, cut and the importance of detail. The greater significance of his work is also emphasised, showing how this relentless moderniser changed the world of fashion forever, freeing women from narrow and outdated ideas of style, and democratising high fashion by making ready to wear respectable.

Like the hundreds of mourners in Le Smoking trouser suits who lined the streets at his funeral in 2008, the retrospective at the Petit Palais promises to be a great tribute to one of France?s greatest artists of the twentieth century.

read at Vingt Paris, March 2010

Musée du Petit Palais, Avenue Winston Churchill, 75008 Paris, M° Champs-Elysées-Clémenceau or Concorde

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