On the 17th August 2015 I went to visit the Yves Saint Laurent 'Style is Eternal' Exhibition at The Bowes Museum in County Durham.
I love going to fashion exhibitions, as you can probably tell if you're a regular reader of my blog, I've been to quite a few. My all time favourite fashion exhibition I've been to was the Valentino Master of Couture Exhibition at Somerset House in London, which was amazing. You can see and read all about it here:
Anyways, back to the Yves Saint Laurent Exhibition. It's the first exhibition in the UK to present a comprehensive display of the French fashion designer's work and life. The exhibition highlights the defining elements of his vision, and the significant influence it has had on fashion and the way we understand womenswear.
First of all, I just want to tell you how impressed I was with the location of this exhibition. I've never been to The Bowes Museum before, but as I drove through the big black and gold iron gates into the court yard of the grounds, I actually said "wow".
This magnificent French chateau was created in the late 19th century by John and Josephine Bowes and houses internationally renowned collections of European fine and decorative arts spanning five centuries. The Bowes Museum is a hidden treasure, a jewel in the heart of Teesdale. The Museum is in the picturesque market town of Barnard Castle, County Durham situated in the heart of the Pennines in North East England.
Yves Saint Laurent once said.
"Fashion fades, style is eternal"
Articulating this idea, the exhibition presents fifty garments, including some iconic pieces from the Russian Collection, the Mondrian dresses and the Tuxedo.
When the house of Yves Saint Laurent opened in 1961, it was a major event. The couturier, who was 25 years old at the time and had already gained fame as Christian Dior's successor in 1957 at the age of just 21 years old, (which i didn't know before visiting this exhibition) would end up revolutionising the fashion world while working within the great tradition of French haute couture.
Yves Saint Laurent invented the modern woman's wardrobe. Borrowing from male codes of dress, he created clothing that gave women confidence, audacity and power while still preserving their femininity. He replaced the rules of fashion with an emphasis on style, leaving a woman free to express her true personality through her attire. Instead of dictating trends to be followed, he offered sartorial suggestions that worked with how women lived and moved and which, above all, focused on their active role in society, thus becoming fashion's first 'socially conscious' designer.
While seeking to design for the present, Saint Laurent also paid homage to his favourite artists such as Picasso, Diaghilev, Matisse, Cocteau, Braque, and Van Gogh and used the sumptuous exuberance that haute couture offered to express his simultaneous nostalgia for the past.
In the first twelve years, the designer defined a new style and composed the quintessential elements of a modern woman's wardrobe: the pea jacket and trench coat in 1962; the first tuxedo in 1966; the safari jacket and the first trouser suit in 1967; the jumpsuit in 1968. A collection of these iconic garments are on show at this exhibition. This is an exclusive opportunity for fashion lovers, enthusiasts, designers and students in the UK to have access to some of the 5,000 garments and over 15,000 accessories, drawings, paper patterns, and objects conserved and kept in its archives in Paris.
Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal proposes a thematic exploration of more than forty highly creative years during which the couturier built what stands as a fundamental body of work in the history of fashion. It examines five specific themes that create a unique dialogue with The Bowes Museum's collection of historic textiles, beginning with Saint Laurent's at once traditional and revolutionary approach to Haute Couture, followed by his play on Masculin-Feminin, Transparence, Art, and ending with the lavish display of Spectaculaire.
This exhibiton presents the timeless modernity of Yves Saint Laurent's style. As he himself said of his craft, 'What has always come first to me is respect for a metier that is not quite an art, but which needs an artist in order to exist'.
The exhibition comprised of two rooms. The first room showcased thirteen pieces from years ranging between 1964 to 2001, including:
1. 'Broken Mirror' Evening Ensemble, Autumn-Winter 1978 haute couture collection.
2. First Trouser Suit, Spring-Summer 1967 haute couture collection.
3. Short Evening Dress, Autumn-Winter 1970 haute couture collection.
4. Evening Ensemble, Homage to Pablo Picasso, Autumn-Winter 1979 haute couture collection.
5. Wedding Gown, Homage to William Shakespeare, Autumn-Winter 1980 haute couture collection.
6. Evening Gown, Spring-Summer 2001 haute couture collection.
7. Short Evening Dress, Spring-Summer 1983 haute couture collection.
8. Short Evening Dress, Spring-Summer 1970 haute couture collection.
9. Evening Ensemble, Autumn-Winter 1991 haute couture collection.
10. Embroidered Evening Jacket, Homage to Vincent Van Gogh, Autumn-Winter 1988 haute couture collection.
11. Embroidered Evening Jacket, Spring-Summer 1991 haute couture collection.
12. Embroidered Bolero, Spring-Summer 1992 haute couture collection.
13. Embroidered Shawl, Spring-Summer 1964 haute couture collection.
The second room showcased forty one pieces from the five themes of the exhibition which were:
~ Haute Couture ~
I loved the shape of this dress, the way it was shorter at the front and longer at the back with all the layering of fabrics.
I loved the oversized bow back detail on this dress.
~ Masculin-Feminin ~
This tuxedo was one of my favourite iconic YSL pieces.
~ Transparence ~
~ Art ~
~ Spectaculaire ~
Thank you so much for reading this post!
I hope you've learnt something new and enjoyed reading it.
Until next time....
Laura Jade Jackson