I’m no expert on fashion history, but I’ve always been intrigued by Yves Saint Laurent. Born in Algeria and raised between France and North Africa, Saint Laurent had an intimate understanding of texture, design and the human form, and knew he was destined for an haute couture career from an early age. As a young recruit at Christian Dior, he was initiated into Paris fashion in the height of Dior’s iconic New Look era. When Dior suddenly died in 1957, Saint Laurent was thrust into the spotlight as the head of the influential house at an unprecedentedly young age of 21.
Saint Laurent smoothed and modernised the New Look, created avant-garde silhouettes and concocted designs that both complemented and promoted an empowered female figure. With the aid of his lifetime partner, Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent launched his own label in 1961, and in so doing cemented his place in fashion history forever. Disillusioned with what he saw as a chaotic and directionless industry, he retired in 2002 and passed away in 2008.
The museum’s recreation of YSL’s studio.
In the aftermath of his partner’s death, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent became a labour of love for Bergé. In a bittersweet twist, the museum opened in October 2017, one month after his own death. A mix of biographical material on YSL’s life and career, with plenty of iconic designs and a lovely recreation of his studio space, the museum is an elegant ode to the designer, and by extension to his partner. And it is a success, if this queue I encountered outside the museum not long after it opened is any indication:
Located in a gorgeous mansion in the sixteenth arrondissement, next to the Alma-Marceau metro and fittingly close to the Palais Galliera fashion museum, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent is streamlined, luxurious and unique- much like YSL’s designs themselves.