LOVE LET­TERS TO YVES

Pierre Bergé

Prestige Indonesia - - Contents -

THE MONDRIAN DRESS. Le Smok­ing. The beat­nik look. Those were only three of the ways in which Yves Saint Laurent rev­o­lu­tionised fash­ion in the swing­ing six­ties. He shook up the in­dus­try even more by launch­ing the first ever up­scale ready-to-wear col­lec­tions - at a time when haute cou­ture was the only ac­cept­able op­tion for lux­ury cus­tomers.

A fit­ting tribute to such a rev­o­lu­tion­ary ge­nius is to open a mu­seum that archives all of his great ideas – or rather two mu­se­ums, as will hap­pen in Oc­to­ber. Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, his long­time lover and cre­ative part­ner, had it all fig­ured out - way be­fore the de­signer lost his bat­tle with brain cancer in 2008. The de­signer had been ar­chiv­ing each of his col­lec­tions metic­u­lously since his early years in the 1960s. Ev­ery sketch was kept with care.

This year, Bergé, who helped the de­signer launch the Yves Saint Laurent Cou­ture House in 1961, is open­ing two mu­se­ums in his beloved’s mem­ory. The spa­ces will ex­hibit Saint Laurent’s 40 years of work, to­talling over 5,000 cou­ture gar­ments and 15,000 ac­ces­sories, as well as thou­sands of sketches, pho­tographs and ob­jects.

The mu­se­ums, per­haps, were what Bergé was re­fer­ring to in his eu­logy for Saint Laurent: “But I also know that I will never for­get what I owe you, and that one day I will join you un­der the Mo­roc­can palms.” Once opened, in Paris and Mar­rakech, the mu­se­ums will be noth­ing short than a cou­ple of great love let­ters to Saint Laurent.

Bergé, aged 87, says: “De­spite the pass­ing of Yves over eight years ago, his name, his per­son­al­ity and his tal­ent con­tinue to fas­ci­nate. There is a real de­mand from the pub­lic to be able to ad­mire and un­der­stand the de­signer’s cre­ations. This mu­seum will be the first in the cap­i­tal of fash­ion to ex­clu­sively dis­play the work of one de­signer - in the very space in which they orig­i­nated.”

The first mu­seum, open­ing on Oc­to­ber 3, is a makeover of the ex­ist­ing ate­lier of Saint Laurent at 5 Marceau in Paris. The per­sonal space has pre­vi­ously hosted over 20 art, de­sign and fash­ion ex­hi­bi­tions through­out the 12 years af­ter the pass­ing of the de­signer. Bergé says that of one Saint Laurent’s big­gest in­no­va­tions was “his use of men’s wardrobe. He adapted it for women, giv­ing them the at­tributes of power. Yves Saint Laurent ac­com­pa­nied women of his era in their jour­ney to­wards free­dom.”

Last year, the space was closed for ren­o­va­tion in ad­vance of the mu­seum open­ing. The work is led by stage de­signer Nathalie Crinière and in­te­rior de­signer Jac­ques Grange. The new space, oc­cu­py­ing an area of 450 sqm, will take vis­i­tors to un­der­stand Saint Laurent’s cre­ative process by walk­ing through the stu­dio which he worked at for over 30 years, as well as ex­pe­ri­enc­ing his archives. The ex­hib­ited show­pieces will be ro­tated, around 50 at a time.

“To­day, we can eas­ily iden­tify an in­cli­na­tion from the pub­lic to­wards ev­ery­thing that re­veal se­crets of mak­ing and all the mys­ter­ies sur­round­ing cre­ation, a sort of ap­petite for back­stages,” says Bergé, who pub­lished Let­tres à Yves, an in­ti­mate tribute to his part­ner in 2010. “With a per­son­al­ity as leg­endary as Yves Saint Laurent’s, we ex­pect many peo­ple to be drawn to visit­ing the mu­seum.”

In Mar­rakech, the mu­seum will span across 4,000 sqm and lo­cated in the aptly name Rue Yves Saint Laurent. The space is lo­cated close to Saint Laurent and Bergé’s home near Jardin Ma­jorelle. In 1980, the pair bought over the sto­ried garden to save it from de­mo­li­tion. Hav­ing adopted Mar­rakech as their sec­ond home, the pair then ini­ti­ated a Ber­ber cul­ture mu­seum on site, which draws close to 700,000 vis­i­tors an­nu­ally. The garden is also home to Saint Laurent’s grave.

“Yves Saint Laurent and I dis­cov­ered Mar­rakech in 1966, and we never left,” Bergé once pro­claimed. “This city deeply in­flu­enced Saint Laurent’s life and work, par­tic­u­larly his dis­cov­ery of colour. It feels per­fectly nat­u­ral, 50 years later, to build a mu­seum ded­i­cated to his oeu­vre, which was so in­spired by this coun­try. As for Paris, who needs to spec­ify that it is where Yves Saint Laurent cre­ated all his work and built his ca­reer?”

The ma­jor ar­chi­tec­tural project is led by Stu­dio KO, a French ar­chi­tec­tural prac­tice led by Olivier Marty and Karl Fournier. The stu­dio, known for its min­i­mal­ist ap­proach to ar­chi­tec­ture, has pre­vi­ously de­signed Bergé’s hol­i­day home in Morocco. For Musée Yves Saint Laurent, the stu­dio builds a fuss­free space made of terra cotta, con­crete and an earthen-coloured ter­razzo with pieces of Mo­roc­can stone. The mu­seum is in­tend­edly

built to com­ple­ment its sur­round­ing, rather than stand­ing out.

The mu­seum will ex­hibit a per­ma­nent dis­play of Saint Laurent’s work in a 400 sqm space, with an orig­i­nal scenog­ra­phy by Cre­ative Di­rec­tor Christophe Martin. There will also be space for tem­po­rary ex­hi­bi­tions span­ning 150 sqm and a 130-seat au­di­to­rium. A re­search li­brary houses 5,000 books in mul­ti­ple sec­tions, in­clud­ing Ara­bic and An­dalu­sian his­tory, ge­og­ra­phy, lit­er­a­ture and po­etry, botany, and Ber­ber cul­ture. One sec­tion is ded­i­cated to Saint Laurent’s work. Com­ple­ment­ing the mu­seum is a café-res­tau­rant with a ter­race and a book­shop.

The plan for the mu­seum has long been in the works. In 1964, Saint Laurent de­cided to keep a dress for the first time. “I re­mem­ber it very well, it was a brown lace dress that he loved very much,” Bergé rem­i­nisces. With each col­lec­tion, the archive grew, and fi­nally the pair de­cided in 1981 to put Hec­tor Pas­cal in charge of the col­lec­tion. Pas­cal would go on to write a book on the de­signer, Yves Saint Laurent - L’Art du Bal­let en Russie. In the nineties, the pair es­tab­lished a doc­u­men­ta­tion cen­tre at La Vil­lette, Paris, where the archive is kept in mu­seum-qual­ity stor­age.

Bergé is un­doubt­edly very proud of the ex­ten­sive Saint Laurent archive. While Saint Laurent’s iconic pieces are prized in the lux­ury vin­tage mar­ket, the foun­da­tion that Bergé and Saint Laurent con­ceived does not have to hunt down pieces to com­plete the ex­hi­bi­tions at the two new mu­se­ums.

“Some of the more es­tab­lished brands, such as Dior, Ba­len­ci­aga and Chanel, re­ally see the value in buy­ing back their her­itage. This is some­thing we don’t have to do, as we al­ready have in­cred­i­bly rich and com­plete archives,” says

“To­day, we can eas­ily iden­tify an in­cli­na­tion from the pub­lic to­wards ev­ery­thing that re­veal se­crets of mak­ing and all the mys­ter­ies sur­round­ing cre­ation, a sort of ap­petite for back­stages”

Bergé, who re­sides in a du­plex in an 18th-cen­tury build­ing on Paris’ Left Bank. “We have ev­ery­thing, from the sketches he made un­til the show. We have the whole process, in­clud­ing pa­per pat­terns, fab­rics and ac­ces­sories.”

The mu­se­ums will be a last­ing legacy of Saint Laurent, who in 1966, braved ridicule to open a bou­tique on The Left Bank ded­i­cated to ready-to-wear. Ex­plains his lover: “It was the first time a great cou­turier had de­signed ready-to-wear, and given it as much thought as haute cou­ture. By cre­at­ing clothes which were un­beat­ably priced and im­pec­ca­bly tai­lored, he re­alised one of his most cher­ished dreams: dress­ing all women, and not only rich clients.”

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