I played hooky earlier this week and drove into San Francisco to visit the de Young museum in Golden Gate Park. The museum has on display a new exhibit featuring a career retrospective of clothing designer Yves Saint Laurent, who passed away on June 1 of this year.
Yves Mathieu-Saint-Laurent was born on August 1, 1936 in Oran, Algeria, at the time a French colony.
Yves Saint Laurent
I don’t really know much about Yves Saint Laurent clothes (they’re out of my Old Navy budget), but I’ve seen and played with the YSL luxe makeup line at Nordies and Sephora and have always been curious about the man, so I thought the exhibit might be cool.
A cocktail dress and hat, circa 1960. I’d so rock this in a heartbeat!
The exhibit features over 130 original Yves Saint Laurent designs from the ’60s to the present day, outfits ranging from sleek, sophisticated cocktail dresses to intricate haute couture gowns.
Beyond presenting his clothes, the exhibit explores the man and what had been some of his sources of inspiration during his life — art, theatre, history, literature and nature.
There aren’t any compacts or lipsticks in the hizz, but I think his influence on the entire world of beauty, from fashion to cosmetics, comes through in the patterns and colors of his clothes.
He Changed How We Dress
Ah, the pantsuit. There are several pant suits and tuxedos up in the mix, items that were signature to YSL style. In the 1960s, YSL designed and dressed women in clothes that had historically symbolized male power. The shift signaled a revolution in the history of women’s clothing. Now we wear pants day and night!
A Shakespeare-inspired haute couture gown
Who doesn’t like pants, right? Heck, I wear pants like *every* day!, but YSL was also a master of the haute couture gown.
Before my trip to the museum this week, I’d never seen a haute couture gown in person. Fo sho, they’re extremely detailed — the pleating, bead work and embroidery — but in general they’re not something you’d wear to the library on a Tuesday. It took every ounce of willpower to refrain from touching.
Haute couture designs are made-to-order and custom-fitted, a very time consuming process. Garments are made from high quality fabrics and usually sewn by hand.
The French Chamber of Commerce has in place a set of rules and standards covering use of the term “haute couture,” restricting its use to cover garments that have been made-to-order for private clients in which at least one personal fitting has taken place. That’s not all… The design house (atelier) must have at least 15 full time employees and present collections with a minimum of 35 day and evening wear looks at least twice per year to the Paris press.
Sorry, Miss, No Pictures
That’s the thing about museums… They’re usually look but don’t touch. That, and they usually prohibit flash, if not all photography, which was the case here. I managed to take exactly THREE shots on the d-low with my camera phone until I got busted by one of the roving museum security guards. CRAP. Sorry these look so Blair Witch Project.
(Note to file: Once security guards have told you that photos aren’t allowed, pretending you don’t speak English works two, three times MAX.)
After the exhibit I went to the museum store to look through a few of the fashion books.
A Chanel book *almost* came home with me, but I decided against it and went with a few Yves Saint Laurent postcards instead.
The Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the San Francisco de Young museum in Golden Gate Park runs through April 5, 2009. Admission to the museum is $10, with an extra $10 for entrance to the YSL exhibit ($20 total).
If you’re ever feeling blue or just need to escape with your thoughts for a while, check your local museums because most offer a free day during the week or month when they wave their regular admission.
Your friendly neighborhood beauty addict,