Exhibition – YSL – Lane Mitchell

Lane Mitchell


By some streak of fate, the Denver Art Museum was the only museum in the United States to exhibit Yves Saint Laurent’s groundbreaking fashion. After discovering this exhibition I was very excited and pleased because of the many arguments I have had with people in the past over weather fashion is art or not. Thank you DAM for making that fact a little more concrete.

Regardless of your previous knowledge of YSL, after meandering through this exhibit, anyone will understand and appreciate his art of fashion. After buying a ticket and impatiently waiting in a line of people of all ages, you enter into the first room of the exhibition. This initial room displays St. Laurent’s first work in fashion. As you read or listen to the information provided, you learn about St. Laurent’s priceless work for Dior. While working for Dior, St. Laurent began to play with the idea of mixing men’s and women’s fashion, something that he continued to play with throughout his career. His most iconic example of this while working for Dior was his creation of the woman’s’ leather jacket.

After working for Dior and beginning to revolutionize women’s fashion, YSL branched off, creating his own line. The next thing you are presented with in the exhibition is a replica of St. Laurent’s work place. It is in this display that you really begin to realize his love for the female figure. You are informed that St. Laurent rarely used a mannequin, instead opting for a real, breathing woman, because that is in fact who will be wearing his garments, as opposed to a hard plastic representation of a woman.

Moving on through the exhibit, St. Laurent’s revolutionary styles are displayed even further. This section displayed the suites that created a freedom in women’s style. Being suites, these styles conveyed the power and assertion that a man portrayed in the workplace, while at the same time portraying a soft and feminine side by enhancing the beauty of a woman’s form. Women wanted to be treated equally and taken seriously in the workplace and YSL helped these working women enforce those ideas.

Moving on through the exhibition, you enter into a room filled with fashion clearly representing different cultures of the world. These designs clearly embodied the essence of Russia, China, Morocco and India through St. Laurent’s use of color, texture and pattern. I was mostly drawn to these designs mainly because of their clear intention without the use of any articulation.

Overall, I feel very lucky to live so close to such an amazing and rare exhibition. I learned way more than I thought I would and my appreciation for fashion as a art form skyrocketed, which I did not think could happen. I would recommend this exhibition to anyone, regardless of age or gender, because it expands the idea of art and what art is, a question that should forever be questioned.

7 Responses

  1. I really wanted to go to this exhibit. I still plan to, but did not have time before our papers were due. After reading your paper though, I am even more excited to attend this exhibition. It is such a cool idea for an exhibit. I had no idea YSL had such a broad spectrum and can not wait to see the room full of cultural clothing. I did learn from your paper that he led the way for the suite in the woman’s fashion world, very cool.

  2. I agree with you on the fashion representing the different cultures of the world. I was so drawn to the colors and styles. It was definitely one of my favorite parts of the exhibit. These designs has clear intentions as to what they represented and his influences and inspirations for creating them.
    I also think you make a great point in that it expands our definition of what art is. Many people don’t realize how amazing it is that YSL created these.

  3. Fashion can most certainly be an art form, its one that we display on our bodies everyday. Some artists might have a problem with it because it’s too “mainstream” or whatever; but the fact is that a creative mind slaved to create the new style that everyone is wearing now, or a starving artist might have drawn that graphic on your t-shirt. YSL’s work with dior is an interesting facet of the exhibition; some high fashion designer work can be very kitsch and stereotypical, but some of their work can be very elegant and artistic. It only makes sense that they would have such an art-minded person working for them

  4. Im glad that you included the history of his fashion and work with the paper, it gives insight to what his style is about. Being that I have not been to this exhibition yet, I am most excited to see the colors that you, as well as many others have touched on. I agree on the importance of emphasizing the artistic aspect of his work. It is an art form, even though many people do not consider it as such.

  5. I would have loved to see this exhibit and fashion is definitely art! I am happy I read your paper so that I could live through your experience. Reading this post reminded me that YSL is such a versatile and interning artist. Nice piece.

  6. I like the first hand approach you take when describing the exhibit, it really helped me get a good feel for what it must have been like to actually be there, and I think in the case of fashion, which inevitably consists of numerous different pieces, this approach works well. I also like your statement / analysis of the role St. Laurent played in the women’s equality movement. It is interesting to consider a fashion designer in such a light, but it seems as if YSL’s choices in fashion really did help to make a difference in enough women’s appearances and outfits that it worked to the favor of the movement. nice piece.

  7. I’m fascinated with the world of art and fashion. I really feel that design and art have such a close relationship. Often designers try to focus on design, but how rewarding to have an artist that hold fashion shows that are really a comment on contemporary art.

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