All About Yves

A little Paris rain couldn’t keep me away from the first retrospective of Yves Saint Laurent’s work at the Petit Palais. The exhibit, which showcases Saint Laurent’s haute couture creations over the past 40 years, features about 300 drool-worthy pieces, most of which would look as perfectly au courant now as they did when they were originally created. If you’re hopping around Paris and squeezing in the last bits of summer this weekend, don’t miss it as it closes August 29th.

But my excitement over the exhibit and seeing Saint Laurent’s noteworthy, fashion news-making pieces — the beige cotton gabardine safari jacket and silver metal rings belt worn by model Verushka; the Mondrian-inspired color block dress — was totally and utterly diverted by the sight of a young, nondescript girl who was painstakingly, perfectly sketching out nearly every dress in the exhibit in miniature!! Mon dieu!

At the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit in Paris

Admittedly, I trailed her from room to room desperately trying to snap a photo of her remarkable sketches with my phone, but that proved far too awkward and I was starting to feel a bit like Mr. Bean in my thwarted attempts to capture these amazing illustrations. When I finally settled on the direct route of simply asking her, she got embarrassed, turned crimson and declined. Saint Laurent himself would have been undoubtedly impressed by her skill, and I contemplated for a brief moment marching her straight off to YSL HQ at 5, Avenue Marceau.

In fact, watching the video reels of him sketching with otherworldly ease was one of the most remarkable elements of the exhibit, as was the recreation of Saint Laurent’s work desk. His desk was compelling for nothing else other than it was an intimate vignette that gave a slice of Saint Laurent himself — his trademark glasses, pencils, inspirational art books, bulletin board with sketches and photos of his dogs.

There are many rooms for diehard fans to appreciate: one dedicated to his relationship with Catherine Deneuve, featuring her wardrobe from Luis Buñuel’s once scandalous film “Belle du Jour”; a section showcasing the infamous nude photos taken of Saint Laurent by Jeanloup Sieff; and a wall dedicated to every Le Smoking tuxedo look that Saint Laurent created from 1966 to 2002.

The exhibit was created in association with the Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation. Fall 2011 will see the premiere of the film “L’Amour Fou,” by Pierre Thoretton, a film about the relationship between the designer and his longtime love, life and business partner Pierre Berge.

As a young, wide-eyed fashion reporter in Tokyo over a dozen years ago, I had the chance to sit with Berge on a couple occasions during his trips to Tokyo and was always astounded by three things: the sense of calm that he emitted, his surprising frankness and the deep partnership that existed between the two on every level.

If you’ve missed the first round of this exhibit, not to fear: Plan for part deux to launch in February 2011, when a major exhibition of Yves Saint Laurent’s creations for his pret-a-porter line, Rive Gauche, will open at the Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation. Consult for more information.

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Author:Michelle Dalton Tyree

Fashion Trends Daily is the brainchild of Michelle Dalton Tyree. She is the former West Coast Retail Editor for Women’s Wear Daily, Fashion Editor for The Japan Times, and founder of former L.A. luxury boutique Iconology. Michelle is frequently quoted about fashion retail trends in major media outlets such as NPR, KPCC, The Inside Source and the New York Times. She has developed content for many luxury brands and retailers and has written for Allure, Worth Global Style Network, Footwear News and other media outlets.