Thursday morning, I was enlightened. Since Yves Saint Laurent's death this past Summer, the fashion world has been paying tribute and speaking praise. Perhaps one of the best ways to do both is to showcase an extensive collection of the artist's work. And so, the de Young museum of San Francisco gave me a sneak peek of Yves Saint Laurent's highly anticipated exhibition, spanning 40 years and 130 ensembles. The exhibit is open to the public Saturday.
The most special guest was there: Pierre Bergé, Yves's partner and business associate since 1961. Pierre spoke to a small group of local press and was humble and heartfelt. His words about Yves tugged on my heartstrings and got me really excited to view the exhibition. "Today is the first collection after his death." He referred to Yves as "one of the greatest of our time." He pointed out that "in our world women are more and more important" and Yves recognized that. "The collection is just a part of Yves's work," reminding us of the 5,000 plus YSL pieces that are preserved and kept in Paris. Can you imagine? He also called San Francisco "a beautiful city" and was proud to have the foggy city house such a collection. Side note: Pierre was wearing an Obama pin.
To read more about my enlightenment and to see loads of wonderful Yves Saint Laurent creations, read more
As a fashion journalist, I am aware of the importance of Yves Saint Laurent. But personally, I haven't had much experience with the house's clothes. Yves showed his last collection in 2002. Only now can I actually purchase pieces from the house, but today's pieces aren't touched by the originator. I have admired vintage YSL, but no, I have never worn an original Yves Saint Laurent. My enlightenment emerged upon viewing precious pieces from "Le Smoking," his homage to Africa collection, the famous Mondrian dress, and representations from his Ballets Russes collection. These were all familiar, as seen in textbooks and pictures, but in real life they are incredible.
The massive collection, curated in an organized yet unique fashion, made my head spin. Another realization was how many of today's designers draw inspiration from these ideas that were presented decades ago. I saw Giambattista Valli in a voluminous LBD, Armani in sleek beaded evening wear, Marc Jacobs in quirky party dresses, Michael Kors in jetsetting separates. YSL Haute Couture was presented through a glass display, and videos and runways shows played throughout. It was a YSL feast for the eyes.
While everything impressed, I had a few favorites I went back to admire a couple more times. First off, the body revealed collection of evening dresses. Yves pushed the envelope with revealing flesh, but he did so with taste. These are key examples. The Africana pieces were super fun; the intricate beading and the exotic cuts were stunning. This famous knit wedding gown made me chuckle. Lastly, his art inspired pieces were pretty magnificent.
This exhibit is both a proper homage and a destination for any fashion lover. On this spooky holiday, this Yves quote felt rather fitting: “My profession is the loving dialogue of this naked woman with all the magic spells of the wrapping of my fabrics.” Consider me spellbound.