Yves Saint Laurent, a Visionary – 23 February 2013 @ ING Cultural Centre, Brussels

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Long ago in a distant past, my closest friend and I adored Yves Saint Laurent. Matter-of-factly and abstractly, as was suitable to two teenage girls growing up in Thessaloniki between two eras: the end of  the remarkable and dramatic ’70s and the beginning of the glamorous, powerful, excessive, shoulder-padded ’80s…

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Living in a pre-internet era we were scanning magazines and books for articles and photos, enveloped in fragrant clouds of the elegant and pétillant YSL Rive Gauche (I still adore the design of the arty, blue striped metal container although the perfume didn’t suit me really, to my dismay)…

ysl nAnyway, we idolised YSL; we were in love with his style, the fact that he was elegant & naughty & fragile & cute & French with an Algerian touch. I realise now that what made him -and his creations- so attractive was his real love for women, the way he wanted to liberate them and boost their self-assurance, by making his simple, contemporary, impeccable and forever modern designs accessible to all, by creating the Rive Gauche line. It was 1966 when he opened his first Rive Gauche Boutique in Paris – it went on to become an institution.

His safari jackets and thigh-high boots and of course Le smoking, the first classic tux for women, also created in 1966, where shot to fame. In fact, Le smoking was initially intended for the haute couture establishment… who found it too simple and brushed it aside, preferring the usual luxurious gowns and cocktail frocks… So YSL brought it to the Rive Gauche line and lo-and-behold! Instant success! Needless to mention that said haute couture establishment grabbed Le smoking back, as fast as their fashionably manicured, perfectly groomed hands could. The rest is history!

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From a Paris exhibition in 2011 on Rive Gauche; the spirit and decor of the original store were replicated. Some of the models are also exhibited in Brussels.

Yves Saint Laurent was at the height of his creative life, the most important fashion creator of the second half of the 20th century, the last of his kind… but to us, he was our Yves.

All this to illustrate that I could not possibly miss this exhibition; organised by the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent in partnership with ING group, aptly named ‘Yves Saint Laurent, a Visionary’, it presents a selective collection of Yves Saint Laurent creations and objects, some of which have never been exhibited before.

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Pierre Bergé. Contemplation

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Le smoking. Le kiss. A wall of bling. Love postcards. The red corner.

Jewellery, sketches, production drawings, patterns, embroidery samples and rows of boxes of buttons… The paper dolls are there too… we used to play with cut outs when we were kids, only we found them and their wardrobes ready, printed in weekly girls’ magazines.. YSL was actually designing their wardrobes, showing early signs of extraordinary talent.

And this one is also there, minus the girl: the wedding dress I’ll never wear cause I’m not into wedding dresses but would certainly add to my mountain gear next time I visit a posh alpine resort…

Wedding dress, 1965

Wedding dress, 1965

Annoyingly, photography is not allowed… but, thanks to internet and the Master’s popularity, there are loads of photos and clips to share… The exhibition is open until 05 May 2013. It sure will lighten your day!

l amour fou

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