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Paris. Madrid. Denver. This was written boldly across the banner at the Denver Art Museum yesterday, which is hosting “the most important retrospective of Yves Saint Laurent,” according to curator Florence Müller. The exhibit features over 200 iconic designs spanning the couturière’s 40-year career, plus YSL’s memoirs and a recreation of his workspace, not to mention the first dress he ever designed for a client as well as the first Yves Saint Laurent "Le Smoking" tuxedo. So the major thought on everyone’s mind besides “OMG!” was “Why Denver?”
“Because we have the most beautiful women,” joked Denver Art Museum curator Christoph Heinrich at a press preview of the exhibit yesterday. After an intro from legendary co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent Couture House Pierre Bergé, the tres sophisticated Müller took the awestruck crowd through several different rooms that explore Saint Laurent’s career, from the very beginning to his last show in 2002. People were so wowed that it was difficult to herd everyone along.
We saw his Dior years; his studio; the tuxedos; dresses worn by Lauren Bacall, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, and the Baroness of Rothschild; an entire room devoted to scandal (!), Saint Laurent’s nude portrait by Jeanloup Sieff, and clippings of bad press on the walls. There were also YSL fashions inspired by Van Gogh, Picasso, Matisse, and even a Warhol portrait of YSL, plus the breathtakingly spectacular finale.
About that: One side of the room was pure black walls filled eerily from top to bottom with 40 tuxedoed mannequins to represent Saint Laurent’s 40-year career. Juxtaposed with the walls of tuxedos were red staircases staged with mannequins in YSL dresses meant to represent “the last ball,” the end of an era when YSL retired, and when privately wealthy people stopped throwing decadent parties. (Bring us back to that era, please.)
Last but not least, we saw a blinking heart-shaped necklace to show Saint Laurent’s love for the ladies. Said Heinrich: “Yves Saint Laurent shaped what ladies wear, and he also shaped how men look at ladies.” If you are not one of the lucky, lucky residents of Denver who gets to swing by and see it all first hand, check out the exhibition microsite right here.—Erin Barnes
· All Yves Saint Laurent coverage [Racked]