Exhibition dates: November 1, 2008–April, 2009
Press Preview: Thursday, October 30, 2008
San Francisco, CA—Virtuoso. Visionary. Genius. These are just some of the words used to describe the late Yves Saint Laurent, master couturier and fashion pioneer. On November 1, 2008, the de Young opens the exclusive United States presentation of the special exhibition, Yves Saint Laurent, which celebrates the life of Yves Saint Laurent and showcases forty years of creativity by the Maison Haute Couture Yves Saint Laurent, whose unique style blends references to the world of art with allusions to pop culture and social revolutions. Structured around four themes, the exhibition develops the revolutionary nature of his body of work that presents a new definition of femininity and a signature that transcends fashion. The exhibition will include over 120 accessorized outfits belonging to the Foundation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent as well as Saint Laurent’s drawings, photographs and videos. This exhibition marks the first major retrospective of Saint Laurent’s work in over 25 years.
Yves Saint Laurent was known for revolutionizing the haute couture tradition and laying the foundations of modern women’s wear. The wardrobe basics he designed—pantsuit, pea coat, safari jacket, culotte skirt and tuxedo—became true timeless classics in every woman’s wardrobe. His couture designs were equally groundbreaking reflecting wide-ranging sources of inspiration. In Saint Laurent’s vocabulary, music, art, performance, literature and international cultures were just as significant as the new shapes he introduced.
The exhibition, Yves Saint Laurent, will be divided into four themes:
- Masterful Pencil Strokes—follows his work from sketch to final garment. Within this grouping are garments that emphasize the body through slits or draping as well as a look at his masterful use of silhouette through magnified volumes in garments that defied gravity such as bubble skirts, trapeze dresses and voluminous cloaks.
- The YSL Revolution—explores how Saint Laurent’s signature garments form the foundation of contemporary fashion design from which many of today’s designers take their cues. Groupings include YSL’s outfits inspired by men’s tailoring; the repurposing of functional wear such as safari jackets and pea coats into haute couture, and what became his signature: “le smoking,” a man’s tuxedo adapted for a woman first presented in 1966. Also featured are pieces from his famous 1971 collection in which he reintroduced hyper-sophistication while the rest of the world was focused on the hippie and feminist movements.
- The Palette—known for his palette of candy-colored hues, this section demonstrates how YSL dared to use color in a way that broke the rules of traditional fashion design. Groupings here illustrate his fascination with exotic cultures such as Morocco, Russia, Spain and China as well as his use of clashing color palettes, textures, geometry, embroidery and prints.
- Lyrical Sources—features the most spectacular examples of the art of the haute couture and its many inspirations. Groupings here cite YSL’s references to history; the art world including Mondrian, Fauvism, Pop Art, and artists Picasso and Braque, literary sources such as Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and Jean Cocteau and finally YSL’s fascination with flora and fauna through his use of prints, animal motifs, feathers, pelts, flowers and sumptuous embroidery.
The exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, in collaboration with the Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent Foundation. The exhibition is curated by Florence Müller, fashion historian and professor at the Institut Francais de la Mode a Paris, Dianne Charbonneau, curator of contemporary decorative arts at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Jill D’Alessandro, associate curator of textiles at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, Yves Saint Laurent: Style, published in both English (Abrams, September, 2008) and French (La Martinière, 2008). The catalogue is written by Florence Müller with an introduction by Pierre Bergé and an essay by Hamish Bowles, European editor-at-large of VOGUE and is available in soft cover ($50.00).
Symposium—Yves Saint Laurent, Eternal Style
A symposium exploring the work of Yves Saint Laurent and his many influences entitled Yves Saint Laurent, Eternal Style, will be held at the de Young on Saturday, November 1, 2008, from 1–4 pm in the Koret Auditorium. Speakers will include guest curator and fashion historian Florence Müller; VOGUE European editor-at-large Hamish Bowles; Farid Chenoune, French fashion historian and author of Yves Saint Laurent: Smoking Forever; and Nancy Troy, professor of Art History at the University of Southern California and author of Couture Culture: A Study in Modern Art and Fashion.
Tickets are $30 for the general public. (Museum Members, students and members of the Costume Society of America and the Textile Arts Council $20.) Runway videos of past YSL collections will be played during intermissions.
Visiting \ de Young
The de Young, designed by Herzog & de Meuron and located in Golden Gate Park, showcases American art from the 17th through the 21st centuries, international textile arts and costumes, and art from the Americas, the Pacific, and Africa.
Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118
Tuesday–Thursday, Saturday and Sunday: 9:30 am–5:15 pm. Friday: 9:30 am–8:45 pm. Closed on Monday.
$20 adults, $17 seniors, $16 youths 13–17 and students with a college I.D. Members and children 12 and under are free.
The first Tuesday of every month is free. (Admission $10 to view the permanent collections only.)