The Denver Art Museum Hosts the Exclusive Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective

An extensive and gorgeous overview of Yves Saint Laurent's designs and influence can only be viewed in Denver!

The Denver Art Museum Hosts the Exclusive Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective

An extensive and gorgeous overview of Yves Saint Laurent’s designs and influence can only be viewed in Denver!

-Jacey Duprie


Socialites, magazine editors and the who’s who of the fashion industry trotted to Denver, Colorado this past weekend for the opening gala of Yves Saint Laurent’s new exhibition The Retrospective at the Denver Art Museum. The event included attendee’s such as Pierre Bergé, the co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent couture house, Florence Müller, the curator of the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition opening, and magazine editors from Vogue and Vanity Fair to name a few.

The exhibit features outfits, films, sketches and photos from the designer’s 40-year career, each carefully chosen by Florence Müller and Pierre Bergé. The duo combed through the 5,000 complete outfits that are kept in the archives and hand selected 200 silhouettes, which will be on display from March 25– July 8th at the Denver Art Museum.

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 Why Denver? Christoph Heinrich, the museum’s director says “The fabulous thing about this country is you have major events everywhere, all over the country,” said Heinrich, who is from Germany. “It’s not only everything happening in New York and Los Angeles.” Florence Müller mirrored his remarks by saying the choice of Denver is due to “beauty of this museum and the architecture.” Müller, chief curator of the exhibit, with the oversight of Bergé, is a fashion historian, author and curator of several costume exhibits, including several about Yves Saint Laurent. Müller passionately explained that the moderness of the museum helps showcase how Yves Saint Laurent is still very modern and totally timeless.

A few parts of the exhibition focus on movements in the history of Yves Saint Laurent and the rest focus on themes and very large subjects that can help to define his style. Müller says that to fully understand Saint Laurent you must accept that there are two sides to him. “He was a person of modernity, but on the other hand he was full of nostalgia and like to escape in time,” says Müller.

The show is arranged thematically as follows:

Birth of a Revolutionary Couturier

The exhibition starts with a display of Saint Laurent’s designs for Dior, including the 1958 “Trapeze” collection. With this collection, Saint Laurent anticipated the freedom movement of the 1960s.

A Gender Revolution

YSl at Denver Art Museum

In this section, visitors can see how Saint Laurent created a gender revolution by allowing women to express themselves freely, melding the flair of a man’s suit with the seductiveness of woman’s clothing.

Yves Saint Laurent and Women

Another area displays the clothing of the historic women who wore and supported Saint Laurent, including Betty Catroux, Catherine Deneuve, Loulou de la Falaise, Françoise Giroud, Princess Grace of Monaco, Nan Kempner, Paloma Picasso, Diana Vreeland and H.R.H. Duchess of Windsor.

Creating a Furor

YSl at Denver Art Museum

Celebrating the revolutionary style Saint Laurent gave couture, a section is dedicated to his 1971 Scandal Collection which transported people back to the 1940s and a time of war and occupation. The press denounced but the customers adored this collection.

The Enchantment of the Exotic

YSl at Denver Art Museum

In this area, the imaginary world of Saint Laurent is explored—especially a focus on his whimsical travels to China, India and Russia to create his collections using exotic materials, furs and feathers.

Dialogue with Artists and Writers

The art world takes center stage in a section that draws direct lines between the designer and the artists he admired. In 1965, Saint Laurent launched a collection inspired by Piet Mondrian, the early 20th century painter known for his distinctive style of lines and bold color combinations on flat surfaces. Mondrian’s work clearly inspired Saint Laurent in the first of many of the designer’s intersections with the art world.

The Last Ball

YSl at Denver Art Museum

The magic of night and fashion is the focus of The Last Ball section, a succession of exquisite evening dresses from the glory days of haute couture.

Le Smoking

In this section, visitors are given a close look at 40 years of Saint Laurent creations through a wall of more than 30 tuxedos. The first ever “Le Smoking” (the French term for tuxedo) from 1966 faces a variety of other tuxedos, each representative of a fundamental work by Saint Laurent.

The Colors of Yves Saint Laurent

In this section, guests will move through the collision of colors Saint Laurent famously used in his designs with vibrant examples from his collections and hundreds of fabric samples.

Even though YSL didn’t really like to travel, according to Müller, there is an entire middle section of the exhibit dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent’s costume travels through Africa, India, Russia and Asia.

You don’t have to be a fashion obsessed to enjoy the exhibition, just an art lover. However Pierre Bergé, co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent couture house says he doesn’t consider fashion as art. “I think fashion is not an art, should I not say that maybe? But I’m convinced. Fashion is not an art, but fashion needs an artist to exist… to be. Yves Saint Laurent was an artist…a great artist.”

Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective will be on exhibition from March 25 – July 8th at Denver Art Museum, Hamilton Building, 100 W. 14th Avenue Parkway. For more information and tickets visit the museum’s site.

Jacey Duprie is a fashion, travel & lifestyle blogger based in Los Angeles. Her beautifully photographed blog, Damsel in Dior showcases her travels,style and taste.

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