Mu­seum

The Musée Yves Saint Lau­rent in Paris is one of two new mu­se­ums ded­i­cated to the fashion leg­end.

Fashion (Canada) - - CONTENTS - By Jeremy Freed

Paris’s Musée Yves Saint Lau­rent proves “style is eter­nal.”

With its grey stone walls, wrought iron bal­conies, mansard roof and dormer win­dows, 5 Av­enue Marceau looks very much like many build­ings in Paris’s chic 8th ar­rondisse­ment. To those who wor­ship at the al­tar of haute cou­ture, how­ever, the three-let­ter mono­gram “YSL,” in­laid in the stonework, might as well be a bea­con from on high. Such is the power of both the fashion house’s spec­tac­u­lar ac­com­plish­ments on the run­way and the charisma of its name­sake au­teur.

From 1974 un­til his re­tire­ment in 2002, Yves Saint Lau­rent split his time be­tween his Av­enue Marceau ate­lier and Morocco, and both Paris and Mar­rakech un­veiled per­ma­nent mu­se­ums hon­our­ing him last Oc­to­ber. The man him­self was pro­lific, cre­at­ing count­less sketches for each col­lec­tion and re­defin­ing high fashion in the process. He pi­o­neered tuxe­dos and trench coats as lux­ury pieces for women and was the first ma­jor de­signer to use black mod­els and the first cou­turier to open a ready-to-wear bou­tique. There was fashion be­fore YSL, and there has been fashion af­ter him, but for a while at least, he was ev­ery­thing in be­tween.

Saint Lau­rent was a prodigy, land­ing a job at Dior in 1955 and be­com­ing the house’s head de­signer only two years later, at the age of 21. The mu­seum doesn’t dwell on his bi­og­ra­phy, how­ever, which also in­cludes de­pres­sive episodes, drug prob­lems and a love triangle that ended his long-stand­ing friend­ship with Karl Lager­feld. In­stead, it lets his body of work do most of the talk­ing, with video cameos of sales­peo­ple and cou­turi­ers who toiled in his stu­dio. It was not un­com­mon for skilled ar­ti­sans to spend 500 hours on a sin­gle piece. The fi­nal room of the mu­seum is YSL’s for­mer stu­dio, com­plete with art books, fab­ric sam­ples and his desk—a sim­ple table cov­ered in muslin. Ar­ranged on the desk are a walk­ing stick that be­longed to his men­tor Chris­tian Dior, fig­urines of YSL’s beloved French bull­dog, Mou­jik, and the de­signer’s trade­mark thick-framed eye­glasses. It’s as if he has stepped out for lunch and will soon re­turn to work. There’s a YSL quote dis­played in the mu­seum that sums things up per­fectly: “Les modes pas­sant, le style

est éter­nel.” (“Fashion fades, style is eter­nal.”) (Musée Yves Saint Lau­rent Paris, 5 Av­enue Marceau. museeyslparis.com)

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