I made a haute stop in Denver this weekend for the opening gala of Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective. The social event included attendee’s from around the world such as Pierre Bergé, the co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent couture house, Florence Müller, the curator of the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition opening, and magazine editors from Vogue and Vanity Fair to name a few.
For the full rundown, click below
‘Why Denver?’ As Florence Müller opened the exhibit she passionately explained that “it’s the beauty of this museum and the architecture.” Müller said the moderness of the museum helps showcase how Yves Saint Laurent is still very modern and totally timeless. Müller, chief curator of the exhibit, with the oversight of Bergé, is a fashion historian, author and curator of several costume exhibits, including several about Yves Saint Laurent.
The Retrospective exhibition includes 200 outfits, sketches, films and photos from the designer’s 40-year career. Müller says that to fully understand Saint Laurent you must accept that there are two sides to him. “He was a person of modernity, but on the other hand he was full of nostalgia and like to escape in time,” says Müller.
Following opening remarks, the doors of the exhibition opened and the energy was electric. The show is arranged thematically, covering Saint Laurent’s gender revolution of putting women in pants for day and evening. While YSL didn’t really like to travel, according to Müller, there is an entire middle section of the exhibit dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent’s costume travels through Africa, India, Russia and Asia. My favorite section “Le Smoking” felt the most dramatic showcasing a wall of more than 30 tuxedos. The first ever “Le Smoking” (the French term for tuxedo) from 1966 faces a variety of other tuxedos, each representative of a fundamental work by Saint Laurent.
You don’t have to be fashion obsessed to enjoy The Retrospective. Guests are given headsets with matching numbers, providing an interesting story and history behind each garment, sketch, photo and more. Walking through the beautiful exhibition, it’s as if each piece practically begs you to take it off the mannequin and wear it. That’s the beauty of Yves Saint Laurent’s creations; they can still be worn in modern day. They are timeless, they are breathtaking, and they are art.
Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective runs through July 8th at Denver Art Museum, Hamilton Building, 100 W. 14th Avenue Parkway. For more information, visit YSL Denver.
The entire exhibition includes:
Birth of a Revolutionary Couturier
The exhibition starts with a display of Saint Laurent’s designs for Dior, including the 1958 “Trapeze” collection. With this collection, Saint Laurent anticipated the freedom movement of the 1960s.
A Gender Revolution
In this section, visitors can see how Saint Laurent created a gender revolution by allowing women to express themselves freely, melding the flair of a man’s suit with the seductiveness of woman’s clothing.
Yves Saint Laurent and Women
Another area displays the clothing of the historic women who wore and supported Saint Laurent, including Betty Catroux, Catherine Deneuve, Loulou de la Falaise, Françoise Giroud, Princess Grace of Monaco, Nan Kempner, Paloma Picasso, Diana Vreeland and H.R.H. Duchess of Windsor.
Creating a Furor
Celebrating the revolutionary style Saint Laurent gave couture, a section is dedicated to his 1971 Scandal Collection which transported people back to the 1940s and a time of war and occupation. The press denounced but the customers adored this collection.
The Enchantment of the Exotic
In this area, the imaginary world of Saint Laurent is explored—especially a focus on his whimsical travels to China, India and Russia to create his collections using exotic materials, furs and feathers.
Dialogue with Artists and Writers
The art world takes center stage in a section that draws direct lines between the designer and the artists he admired. In 1965, Saint Laurent launched a collection inspired by Piet Mondrian, the early 20th century painter known for his distinctive style of lines and bold color combinations on flat surfaces. Mondrian’s work clearly inspired Saint Laurent in the first of many of the designer’s intersections with the art world.
Yves Saint Laurent, Tuxedo with pants, haute couture collection, Fall-Winter 1966. Black barathea and satin silk, white organdy blouse. © Fondation Pierre Bergé- Yves Saint Laurent, Paris / Photo A. Guirkinger.
The Last Ball
The magic of night and fashion is the focus of The Last Ball section, a succession of exquisite evening dresses from the glory days of haute couture.
In this section, visitors are given a close look at 40 years of Saint Laurent creations through a wall of more than 30 tuxedos. The first ever “Le Smoking” (the French term for tuxedo) from 1966 faces a variety of other tuxedos, each representative of a fundamental work by Saint Laurent.
The Colors of Yves Saint Laurent
In this section, guests will move through the collision of colors Saint Laurent famously used in his designs with vibrant examples from his collections and hundreds of fabric samples.