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Yves Saint Laurent at San Francisco’s de Young

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I attended the YSL Symposium, “Yves Saint Laurent: Eternal Style,” that my sister, Jill D’Alessandro, co-curator of the exhibition, organized on November 1, 2008 at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Hamish Bowles, fashion journalist, spoke about Christian Dior’s influence on the young Yves Saint Laurent, who took over the venerable House of Dior in 1958, at the age of twenty-one when Dior died; and later how Yves reinterpreted the classics in his own inimitable style, opening his own house with partner Pierre Berge three years later. 


Farid Chenoune, French fashion historian’s talk was entitled, “Le Smoking: Yves Saint Laurent: A Masculine Garment, A Feminine Statement.” He discussed Saint Laurent’s radical introduction in 1966 of women wearing tuxedos—the fairy tale had been turned on its head—the princess abandoned her gown for the knight’s armor.  


Chenoun cited Saint Laurent’s influences—the androgynous men and women who frequented the nightclubs on Paris’ Left Bank, and homage to Marlene Dietrich. Florence Müller, fashion historian, spoke about the vast influence that Saint Laurent himself had on the way the modern women dresses and the popular designers today, showing wonderful images of recent runway shows and the YSL pieces that inspired them.


Yves Saint Laurent brought style to ready-to-wear and helped women feel free to feel fashionably dressed in pants, safari jackets,  sheer blouses, sweaters and shift dresses, a big departure from the 50s nipped waist dresses that had been de rigeur. One of his muses, Betty Catroux, still sporting silky blonde hair and her gazelle-like legs, was in the audience and was still the chic-est woman there. And Pierre Berge, his business and life partner, also in town for the opening, wearing an Obama pin on his lapel, remarked that San Francisco was the perfect place to host the Yve Saint Laurent retrospective for one of his other muses, Nan Kempner, with her West coast free spirit, also embraced all what Saint Laurent had to offer was a native San Franciscan. The Exhibit is open until April 5, 2008 at the de Young Museum. Don’t miss it! 


Hamish Bowles
The Line of Beauty: Yves Saint Laurent and the influence of Christian Dior

Fashion journalist; contributing author to Yves Saint Laurent: Style; European editor-at-large for American Vogue; author and co-author of several books, including Vogue Living: Houses, Gardens, People and Carolina Herrera: Portrait of a Fashion Icon; and curator of the landmark exhibition Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years.


Farid Chenoune
Le Smoking: Yves Saint Laurent:
A Masculine Garment, A Feminine Statement
Fashion historian; author of Yves Saint Laurent: Smoking Forever; instructor at the Institute Français de la mode and the Ecole nationale superiéure des arts decoratifs; author of several books, including A History of Men’s Fashion and Beneath It All: A Century of French Lingerie; and a contributor to French Vogue. 


Florence Müller
Yves Saint Laurent Style and Design Legacy

Fashion historian; guest curator of Yves Saint Laurent; professor at the Institut Français de la mode à Paris; fashion editor of Surface magazine; curator of numerous exhibitions worldwide; and co-author of Histoire du look, a series of documentaries covering centuries of fashion history 


Here’s the link to the photo site of the exhibition. Gallery shots are at the end. Just click on whatever you’d like to use and you can download a 300 dpi version to your desktop.

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