Times Colonist

From Paris to Montreal, fashion world ‘crying’ for Saint Laurent

- EVA FRIEDE

The uncanny coincidenc­e that Montreal premiered a dazzling exhibition of Yves Saint Laurent’s creations just three days before his death has museum officials and designers feeling stunned, sad and close to the legendary designer.

“I’m sure Paris is crying for Saint Laurent,’’ said designer Philippe Dubuc, “but we are feeling it in Montreal, too.”

“I’m sad because it’s the end of an era,’’ said Serge Senecal of Montreal’s Serge & Real couture team, which has always seen Saint Laurent as its “god.’’

The exhibition, the first fullcareer YSL retrospect­ive, spanning 40 years of haute couture, opened to the public Thursday at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Saint Laurent, regarded as one of the greatest designers of the 20th century, died Sunday at age 71 in Paris of a brain tumour. He retired in 2002, after revolution­izing womenswear in the 1960s with pantsuits and tuxedos — often paired with sheer chiffon, interpreti­ng the works of Mondrian, Picasso and Braque in fashion, and taking inspiratio­n from cultures around the world.

The museum will offer a book of condolence­s to visitors, which is to be presented to Fondation Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent in Paris at the close of the show on Sept. 28. Admission to the exhibition will be free on Friday, the day after the funeral.

“I’m thinking of the man who called him Yves, all those who called him Monsieur Saint Laurent, and all the women and men who will remember him by his artist’s name, Yves Saint Laurent,” said museum director Nathalie Bondil, who conceived of the grand scale of the exhibition after viewing his work in Paris.

The “man who called him Yves’’ was Berge, Saint Laurent’s former lover and lifelong business partner. Berge was among the visitors to Montreal last week to open the exhibition.

“I am shattered,’’ Berge, who founded the iconic YSL fashion house in 1961 with the designer, told Agence FrancePres­se.

His talent, he added, “above all was to have endured . . . to have remained faithful to a style.”

Senecal recalls a moody photograph of Saint Laurent walking down Marceau Avenue in Paris with his dog Moujik after his final show in 2002. “His work was finished and he just went,’’ Senecal said.

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