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Yves Saint Laurent
>29 May - 28 September 2008
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
>1 November 2008 - 1 March 2009
Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

fig< First Tuxedo, Fall/Winter 1966, No. 76. Nap and satin silk jacket and trousers, mandarin tuxedo shirt. Tie, cumberbund and satin ankle boots, metal cufflinks with fancy pearls. Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent. Photo Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent.

Yves Saint Laurent revolutionized the haute couture tradition and was laying the foundations of modern women’s wear. The wardrobe basics that he designed – pantsuit, culotte skirt, pea coat, blazer, safari jacket and tuxedo – became timeless classics. In Saint Laurent’s stylistic vocabulary, music, art, performance, literature and impressions of far-off places were just as important as the new shapes he introduced.

This is the first retrospective spanning 40 years of creativity of the Maison Haute Couture Yves Saint Laurent which stands from the beginning in close relationship to pop culture and social revolutions such as gender roles. Yves Saint Laurent (born in 1936, died on 1st June 2008) defined femininity new and left a signature that transcends fashion.

fig> Yves Saint Laurent, portrait
. Photo André Rau. Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent.

The exhibition's four themes

“Masterful Pencil Strokes” you can follow the designer’s idea from the original sketch

“The YSL Revolution” exhibited are the famous feminized versions of men’s attire rub shoulders with seductive apparel

“The Palette”
Yves Saint Laurent reversed traditional rules of colour harmony in new contrasts inspired by cross-fertilization

“Lyrical Sources” in this section the historical, literary (Proust, Oscar Wilde, Louis Aragon, Jean Cocteau…), artistic influences and the interpretation/translation by Yves Saint Laurent are shown

YSL transformed the paintings he admires into fabric. Some of his models take up the visual sensations of Impressionism, while others liberate the expressive power of some of the great names and movements of modern art: Mondrian and Poliakoff in 1965, the Pop Art dresses in 1966, Picasso in 1979 and Braque in 1988.

Yves Saint Laurent: childhood, education, first success, Maison de Haute Couture
Yves Saint Laurent spent his childhood in Algeria. In 1954 he moved to Paris in 1954 to take design courses at the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture. There he caught the eye of Christian Dior and was hired as his assistant the following year. He directed the House of Dior after the master’s death in 1957. His first international success was his developed Trapeze line.

In 1958, he met Pierre Bergé, a theatre director and stage producer, who began to manage his career. They founded Yves Saint Laurent's own maison de haute couture. On January 29, 1962, he unveiled his first collection under the Yves Saint Laurent label.

Yves Saint Laurent was a pioneer when he moved into the ready-to-wear market. Additional Saint Laurent designed costumes and sets for such famous ballets and plays as Cyrano de Bergerac (1959) and The Marriage of Figaro (1964), and for films including The Pink Panther (1963) and Stavisky (1974). He also dressed a number of actresses, the most famous being Catherine Deneuve.

On January 7, 2002, Yves Saint Laurent announced to the press his retirement and the closure of his maison de haute couture. On January 22, a crowd of 2,000 admirers from around the world gathered to celebrate his career at a valedictory fashion show staged in Paris. Since stepping down, he has worked with Pierre Bergé managing the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, which holds a remarkable collection of more than 5,000 ensembles and 15,000 objects that trace the history of the House of Yves Saint Laurent.

Living History
Yves Saint Laurent not only transformed the world of women’s fashion, but is also the first living haute couture designer to be honoured by a museum. In 1983, the Metropolitan Museum of Art presented the very first exhibition on Yves Saint Laurent, which later travelled to Beijing, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Paris, Sydney and Tokyo. In 1985, he was awarded the “Oscar du plus grand couturier” at the Paris Opera House for lifetime achievement in fashion.
Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent publishes extensive information about Yves Saint Laurent and former, current and coming exhibitions on

Catalogue>with French/English texts by Florence Müller and Hamish Bowles presents little-known ensembles. Included are especially for this publication produced photos by Alexandre Guirkinger >

The French fashion historian Florence Müller, Diane Charbonneau, Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Jill D’Alessandro, associate curator, Caroline and H. McCoy Jones Department of Textile Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, are the curators of the exhibition.

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