I’ve been back in Paris for a few days now and I have a little time between visitors. I decided to treat myself to a morning with Yves Saint Laurent.
I took the least expensive route and headed to the museum that honors his designs and artistry rather than stepping into one of the haute couture shops in the city. I’m not sure that I would have an occasion for a Saint Laurent gown, but I am always eyeing his signature clutch handbags. My defenses are wearing down on that front; best to stay away from retail shops.
The museum is set up in his former 16th arrondissement atelier which includes the large rooms for showing seasonal collections, space for client fittings and his studio on the top floor. It was surreal to walk through these areas with some of his most notable works displayed and realize that not so long ago this was a busy studio.
Part of Saint Laurent’s success was the relationship he had with his partner, Pierre Bergé. Saint Laurent represented the creative side of the brand while Bergé was the operations. They were both relentless with perfection, but within their own domains. Despite ending their romantic relationship in the 70’s they continued on as successful business partners.
One of the most enjoyable parts of visiting the museum were the sketches and drawings Saint Laurent created. He enjoyed the arts and was called upon to create costume designs for ballets, opera and theater. In his youth, he seemed to grasp his talents which eventually brought him global fame, “Perhaps my projects are too broad…I would like to be interested in many things, which are in fact one and the same: theater sets and costumes, decoration and illustration. On the other hand, I feel extremely attracted to fashion. My choice of career will undoubtedly be based on an opportunity in either of these possibilities.”
Saint Laurent had a special love for Morocco and was said to have started his creative process in the country each season. His sketches were committed to paper and then given to the ateliers with fabric swatches and design specifications. Each collection included approximately 100 designs and every design included statement accessories. Saint Laurent believed in “a dress to be simple and an accessory to be crazy”.
Saint Laurent eventually passed away due to brain cancer. He was survived by Pierre Bergé who ensured his legacy would be remembered both in Paris as well as Marrakech.