Annie Davis – Exhibition Paper

Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective is graciously presenting in three cities across the world: Paris, Madrid and Denver. It came as a surprise to many that the United States exhibition was taking place in Colorado, rather than the fashion capital of New York City. The exhibition was presented by the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent and collected around 200 of his pieces. The French designer’s work is displayed as haute couture, or high fashion.

The curatorial aspects of the exhibition were incredible. Chief curator of the show Florence Müller has worked several times before with Yves Saint Laurent’s retrospectives, as has the exhibition designer Nathalie Criniere. The layout of each room reflected and perfectly exemplified the apparel of Yves Saint Laurent. His clothing was organized into nine categories of wear, some titled “Birth of a Revolutionary Couturier”, “A Gender Revolution”, and “The Enchantment of the Exotic”. The viewer is able to see both the garments and the ideas behind the designs to add further understanding to the entire process of creating a revolutionary piece. Museum goers are able to peer into a replica of Yves Saint Laurent’s studio, where sketches, trinkets, and swatches of fabric are strewn over the display. There are also video and audio aspects of the exhibit that help express the history of his life and marvels.

One of the most fascinating rooms of the show was “The Iconic Tuxedo,” where forty men’s and women’s tuxedos were lined up against a lengthy wall. Each suit was set on it’s own pedestal, illuminated by a single light bulb on the bottom left-hand corner of the shelf. The room is dimly lit aside from the light bulbs, creating an eerie illusion of never-ending tuxedos, peering down at the viewers. The walls behind the suits are painted a dark gray, adding to the captivating display. Yves Saint Laurent made a bold move when he introduced the women’s tuxedo. His creativity was sparked at the time of the women’s rights revolution, where he created equality in fashion. Of course many did not go well with his designs then, but they are widely applauded today for their ambition and fervor.

Another showcase titled “Imaginary Journeys” featured clothing assorted into categories of the country they exemplify. Some of those countries include Morocco, Russia, and various countries of Africa. Each section was highly relatable to their assigned country. Pieces from Russia were fur lined, those from Morocco were beaded and minimal, and those from India featured bright colors and patterns. There were many other displays with similar denotations. With being able to identify a country to a specific article of clothing, Yves Saint Laurent is successful in taking in visual influence of society and returning it as a product of high fashion.

With that being said, not only is the work of Yves Saint Laurent incredible, but also the way in which it is displayed plays a large part in the interpretation and importance of art. His influences from other French designers Chanel and Dior are visible in the haute couture sector of his works.

On a personal note, I was highly impressed with the exhibit of a well-known designer’s works as pieces of art. What fascinated me most was how incredibly the garments were displayed. I tried to take in every painstakingly minute detail and thought of the craftsmanship behind each set. I realize the time that the designer, curators and exhibitioners put into this single show and hope that the thousands of other viewers took a moment as I did to put this into perspective.

One Response

  1. I really enjoyed your paper and how you described the different collection that the designer did. I really liked how you explained the “Imaginary Journeys” piece and thought that it is very neat and that i really need to go see it! I can tell that you have a passion for this work and i love that.

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