Culled from Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent archives and other private collections, a retrospective at the Seattle Art Museum offers a comprehensive look at the life’s work of Yves Saint Laurent.
Featuring important examples of haute couture and ready-to-wear, some never shown publicly before, the exhibition reveals Saint Laurent’s artistic genius, his influence on fashion, and the creative process in his atelier.
Divided into eight thematic sections, the survey features 110 ensembles, beginning with Saint Laurent’s Paper Doll Couture House, shown for the first time in the United States. The paper dolls and corresponding wardrobes and accessories were created when the couturier was a teenager.
Next comes an examination on Saint Laurent’s formative years at Dior, including a short evening dress from his debut Trapeze collection (1958). Later looks from Saint Laurent’s own couture house spotlight other innovations: the peacoat (1962), the tuxedo (1966), the First pantsuit (1967), the safari jacket (1968).
Saint Laurent was also greatly inspired by art. The exhibition includes one of his famous dresses that pays homage to Piet Mondrian (1965) and dresses inspired by Pop art (1966). Also on view is an evening ensemble comprising a raffia coat and a silk dress embroidered with wooden beads (1967), loosely based on African art.
The exhibition concludes with a procession of evening wear ranging from black silk (1977) to blue-green chiffon (1985) to red silk crepe (1985) gowns to the ‘Love Me Forever’ wedding gown of 1970.
Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style, October 11, 2016 – January 8, 2017, Seattle Art Museum
Yves Saint Laurent, 1971, photo Jeanloup Sieff
Wedding dress, fall 1970
Mondrian dress, fall 1965
Trapeze dress, spring 1958
Pantsuit, spring 1967
Evening look, inspired by Henri Matisse, fall 1981
Evening look, homage to Pablo Picasso, fall 1979
Yves Saint Laurent at home, 55 rue de Babylone, Paris, 1977, photo André Perlstein
Yves Saint Laurent at work in his studio, 5 avenue Marceau, Paris, 1976
Yves Saint Laurent fitting the model Kirat, 1977, photo André Perlstein
Research sketch, Opera-Ballets Russes couture collection, fall 1976