An exterior view of the museum
It’s an idyllic autumnal afternoon in Paris and colourful leaves from the trees fall amidst quaint Parisian streets. Outside 5 Avenue Marceau, the address of the new Musée Yves Saint Laurent, a long line of eagerly waiting visitors all donning fashionable sunglasses, await entry into the new jewel of a museum – one of the most talked about this year. Opening on 3 October to the public after half a century in the making, the YSL Museum launch took place only three weeks after the death of YSL co-founder and the designer’s romantic partner Pierre Bergé, whose dream it was to establish a museum for the much loved designer. Located in the historic building of the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, it is dedicated to Saint Laurent’s couture work – first at Dior and then his own house, in addition to his prêt-a-porter collections for Rive Gauche. Established for the preservation of the designer’s delicate textiles as well as his artistic legacy, the displays at the museum will be regularly updated.
An interior view of the museum
The space is much more than a museum. “The Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris is not only a fashion museum, it is an artist’s studio and a history museum,” says Olivier Flaviano, director of the museum. The institution is located on the former premises of Saint Laurent’s haute couture house, created by Bergé and Saint Laurent in 1962. It closed in 2002, and after two years of renovations, they opened the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, conserving and promoting Saint Laurent’s work. “The next step was taken this year, with the opening of the YSL museum within those premises,” adds Flaviano. “One of the main goals of the museum is indeed to present Yves Saint Laurent’s work, but also to explain the process of the creation of a haute couture collection to the public and to show them how a haute couture house worked.” A walk through the impeccably curated halls reveals Saint Laurent’s haute couture designs for all occasions, his meticulously made accessories, jewellery as well as a variety of artwork, photographs and films that showcase the designer’s rich world of influences.
An interior view of the museum
Currently on display are works from the designer’s first collections as an eponymous label in 1962. Visitors can marvel at his work desk with a range of sketches, materials, designs in process and artworks, as well as portraits of the designer by Andy Warhol. Also on view are the renowned Le Smoking tuxedo and Saharienne jacket. “The iconic pieces he designed in the first 10 years of his career, and which define the style he asserted until the end, are part of the history of the 20th century,” adds Flaviano. “The pantsuit, the pea coat, the jumpsuit, the tuxedo and the trench-coat accompanied women in their emancipation, and created the modern woman’s wardrobe. What is amazing about these pieces is that they are timeless. Mr Bergé used to say that the most wonderful heritage is that all women, sometimes without being aware of it, wear a little bit of Saint Laurent, when they wear a pantsuit, a trench-coat or a pea coat.”
Planche de collection ENSEMBLES HABILLÉS. Collection haute couture printemps-été 1962. © Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, Paris
The museum is the first of its kind dedicate to a sole designer. It has thus changed the way that fashion is considered. The French Ministry of Culture has even recognised the importance of the collection by labeling the museum “Musée de France.” As Flaviano says, “The museum shows to what extent Yves Saint Laurent’s work is timeless and universal, coinciding with a common definition of Art.”
Dress in hommage to Pablo Picasso. Collection haute couture automne-hiver 1979. © Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, Paris/Alexandre Guirkinger