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The Yves Saint Laurent Museum

The Yves Saint Laurent Museum
By Yoek December 28, 2017 12438 Views

After visiting the amazing Dior exhibition, we went to the Musée Yves Saint Laurent the day after. We thought; you can never admire too much beauty over one weekend in Paris! The museum is easy to reach, either by metro (station Alma-Marceau) or have a lovely morning walk along the Seine. When we arrived there was only a short queue, but make sure you book your tickets online on beforehand! In this way you avoid the longer queue for people without tickets, which will take you around the entire block if you are unlucky.

The Musée exhibits the couturier’s work on the legendary premises of the former haute couture house, alternating between retrospective displays and temporary thematic exhibitions. The museum has recently been opened, after the haute couture house was closed fifteen years ago. It is located in the legendary building, where Saint Laurent has spent nearly thirty years of designing his collections, from 1974 until 2002. Only two weeks after the Parisian launch in October, another Yves Saint Laurent museum was opened on one of his favourite spots in the world, Marrakech (Morocco) in Jardin Majorelle. The Moroccan city definitely influenced his designs, but he also made a Russian and Chinese collection.

When Christian Dior suddenly died in 1957, Saint Laurent (Oran, 1936) took the creative lead, while he was only 21 years old. At that time, the Dior House was not very successful but the designs by Saint Laurent were original and led to a great success. But then Yves was called back to his home country Algeria, to serve in the French army during the Algerian War for Independence. But after twenty days he was hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital with a nervous-breakdown and was no longer allowed to be in charge of the Dior House. But in 1962, he launched his own couture house together with his partner Pierre Bergé, that became known as YSL. In the sixties he translated his expensive haute couture collection into a ready-to-wear line, and this led to a major change in fashion, since many high fashion designers followed.

Because of the very intimate atmosphere in the YSL museum, it is a major contrast with the Dior exhibition we visited the day before. This is the first museum of this scale dedicated to the work of one of the twentieth century’s greatest couturiers to open in the capital of fashion. It is both strange and special to walk the same stairs as Yves, you are even allowed to visit his atelier on the first floor! It looks and feels like he can walk in any minute; the atelier is filled with little treasures, fabrics, pencils and a large art book collection. This is the place where he let the mannequins walk in his designs, as you can also see in the different short films showed in the museum. Upon that, he decided on the final fabrics and details like buttons and embellishments.

On the ground floor, ladies used to try on clothes in the fitting salons, after visiting the fashion show. Yves Saint Laurent was the first designer to keep the original piece for himself, to build a kind of legacy, so there is a great collection of 7000 pieces! His ultimate muse was French actress Catherine Deneuve, whom he described as the perfect lady. In the museum you can find several famous designs by Saint Laurent, like the tuxedo costume for women, the iconic Mondrian dress and the safari-jacket and dress. But we absolutely loved the designs inspired by his dream vision of faraway lands, like the bougainvillea capes in bold colour combinations, described as ‘wearable gardens’. And ‘Homage to my House’, his idea of a design which showed the reflection of the chandelier and the Paris sky in the mirror of the House; a beautiful embellished jacket (which we would love to own! - see below).

In 1976, Pierre Bergé and Yves broke up, but Pierre kept taking care of Yves until he died in 2008. Saint Laurent never fully recovered after his mental health problems and Bergé was considered as the person who saved him. In 1999 the brand was bought by Gucci, Tom Ford took the lead in designing the ready-to-wear collection, while Saint Laurent kept designing the haute couture collection. But in 2002, as a result of his drug- and alcohol abuse, his depression, age and problems with Tom Ford, the couture house was closed down in 2002. Upon this, Yves spent most of his time in Marrakech, where he died in 2008. The museum is intimate and makes you learn more about every step of the former design process at Yves Saint Laurent, the fashion show and the final selling process. We loved to read everything, to watch all short films and the museum shop makes you do some shopping! Walk back to the centre along the Seine, but first look behind you for a beautiful view upon the Eiffel Tower. Amusez-vous!

Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris 5 avenue Marceau, 75116, Paris, France

Our next museum trip will be in The Netherlands again, so keep an eye on our magazine blog!