60 years of creation: 6 Parisian museums make a dialogue between Saint Laurent and art

Created as a dialogue between art and fashion, the exhibition “Yves Saint-Laurent at the Museums” celebrates the 60th anniversary of the first fashion show of the designer, who died in 2008. The exhibition is on view until May 15.


For the sixtieth anniversary of Yves Saint-Laurent‘s very first fashion show in the French capital, six emblematic museums are hosting works by the couturier. This exceptional retrospective “Yves Saint Laurent at the museums” highlights the special relationship Yves Saint Laurent had with art, sculpture, painting … and how he transposed it into his creations.


On January 29, 1962, Yves Saint Laurent was 26 years old and organized his very first fashion show at 30 bis rue Spontini, a few weeks after creating his fashion house. Very quickly inspired by the world of art, he declared: “I believe that the work of a couturier is very close to that of an artist. I have constantly drawn inspiration from the work of contemporary painters: Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian“. Madison Cox, president of the Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent Foundation explains that the idea came to them to create “pop-up spaces of these various inspirational universes in the permanent installations of the museums“.


The first obvious step is the Yves Saint Laurent museum, located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, which presents the different stages of the creative process by exhibiting 300 drawings made between 1962 and 2002. This is an opportunity to visit the former workshops where canvases, patterns and sketches are on display.


Museum of Modern Art in Paris © Philippe Petit/Paris Match


A little further on, the Museum of Modern Art in Paris sublimates the work of the creator by bringing together some twenty pieces of monumental canvases of painters from whom he loved to draw inspiration, such as Henri Matisse, Raoul Dufy or Pierre Bonnard.



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At the Musée d’Orsay, the designer’s attachment to the work of Marcel Proust, and especially “Remembrance of things past” was highlighted. In front of the famous Salon de l’Horloge, we discover the dresses created for the Bal Proust, a party organized in 1961 to celebrate the centenary of the writer’s birth, as well as those of the Baroness of Rothschild and Jane Birkin, both inspired by characters from the novel. The question of gender, very present in Proust, also marked the designer, who played with codes, including making women wear tuxedos.


Louvre Museum © Nicolas Mathéus


At the Louvre Museum, the gallery dedicated to the glory of the Roi Soleil, the Galerie d’Apollon, perfectly illustrates the know-how of French art craftsmen with a selection of some exceptional garments. Jackets embroidered with sequins, stones, gold and rock crystal rival the objets d’art displayed in the showcases.



Inspired by the world of Picasso for his creations, it was only natural that the Picasso Museum should welcome the works of Yves Saint Laurent for a dialogue with the paintings of the man he described as a “genius in his purest form“. We discover the creations of the collection Homage to Pablo Picasso designed in May 1979, such as a dress in satin and black velvet, embroidered with a woman’s head painted by the cubist artist, or a jacket inspired by the Portrait of Nusch Éluard.


Centre Pompidou © Hélène Mauri


Finally, the Centre Pompidou brings the designer’s works closer to the pop art movement. It is here that the mythical cocktail dress from the fall-winter 1965 collection, inspired by the paintings of Piet Mondrian and still iconic today, is exhibited. The painter will not enter the museum until 10 years later, proof of modernism and visionary genius of Saint Laurent. There are also pieces related to the work of Matisse, which the designer loved to draw inspiration from. “Mondrian, of course, who was the first I dared to approach in 1965 and whose rigor could not but seduce me, but also Matisse, Braque, Picasso, Bonnard, Leger. How could I resist Pop Art, which was the expression of my youth?” said the creator.




Featured photo : © Nicolas Mathéus

Passionnée par l’art et la mode, Hélène s’oriente vers une école de stylisme: l’Atelier Chardon-Savard. Elle complète ensuite sa formation par un MBA en Marketing à l’ISG. Elle a écrit pour le magazine Do it in Paris et se spécialise en rédaction d’articles concernant le luxe, l’art et la mode au sein de Luxus +.


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