YSL Retrospective

YSL Retrospective

I promised that there would be a bit of a pic fest for the YSL exhibition at De Young museum and yes, there’s a lot of heavy flash going on which REALLY don’t do the details of the ensembles justice.  I felt a little bit like a swotty know-it-all going into this exhibition just because Yves Saint Laurent is one of the few designers that I have read and watched A LOT about.  However I can’t know everything and there is a mystery to Yves Saint Laurent and infinite secrets about his creativity purely because they were SO personal to him and also took a lot of grief and toll on him that constantly intrigues me hence my continuous search for all things YSL-related.  You still end up feeling like you know nothing when you look at the BREADTH of the clothes and that is exactly what is demonstrated at the exhibition but you want to know what was going on in that heart breakingly handsome face of his.  Scarily wide-ranging variety, depth and development.  Yet at the same time, continuity prevails and certain features mark pieces out as distinctly YSL.

For a start, the exhibition is organised by design theme/motif as opposed to chronological order.   So as pieces from the 60s’, 70s’, 80s’ and 90s’ are all jumbled up in random order, you have to look at the placards by each outfit to ascertain which year the piece was created. It struck me that Yves Saint Laurent found several themes and motifs and continued to play on them through the years so that he ended up exploring a TON of things but also established a signature for himself at the same time and I think the structure of the exhibition really played that up. I’m a dumb fool for making the comparison but I can’t help but think of my own style schizophrenic tendancies and how hopefully in some weird and twisted way, that for me is my shabby signature.

The Body Revealed: beautiful LARGE lace back (lace panels should be this big!) and a contrast of light sheer and hefty feathers…



Fundamentals for the Evening…


More Fundamentals for the Evening with gold knitted sleeves and a velvet coat made to order for Marisa Berenson and an evening gown so adorned that it could almost be called garish…except it’s not.

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The YSL Staple…Le Smoking… duh // Redefining the Silhouette with taffeta puffballs, oversized capes and…



…the most remarkable wedding dress ever… a knitted cocoon…


Monochrome Geometry…



The YSL Revolution that made the real differences…

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A tribute to William Shakespeare…


The sort of oddball yet frighteningly beautiful colour combinations that I continue to be inspired by…


The tributes to Vincent van Goh, Henri Mattise, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braques…




…and of course Mondrian…


His preferred escape location of Morocco gets a nod too…


A wedding ensemble that could not be any more literal…


YSL ventured to far away lands through his mind and picture books and
not by actual travelling, creating an homage to Japan, Spain, China, Africa and Russia…





Lots of flora/fauna tributes inside this glass cabinet…


As I said, flash-ridden pics just do not suffice so if you are in San Fran, get thee to De Young or if you were in Montreal, then lucky you as you already saw it… who knows where the exhibition will end up travelling to but I do know San Fran is the only USA destination and it is there until the 5th April 2009.


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  1. lady coveted

    2008-11-03 at 6:23 PM

    oh wow, that looks like an incredible event… and you got to see the cocoon wedding dress… my favorite one ever.

  2. Franki Skye

    2008-11-03 at 6:28 PM

    Woah, that knitted cocoon is kind of scary!

  3. jocelyne

    2008-11-03 at 6:34 PM

    Wow, it really looks amazing, I had no idea there were going to be so many designs there. I also didn’t know we were so special to be the only city in the usa to have the exhibit. I think I will go check it out, luckily I have a free pass for the deyoung, perfect! Thanks for sharing all the great shots!

  4. Make Do Style

    2008-11-03 at 6:42 PM

    Oh thank you – so wonderful to see these pic. Like you my love of YSL (himself, as designer not the house now!) and forever reading about him doesn’t diminish- how brilliant to go!

  5. Chelsea Von Mach

    2008-11-03 at 7:05 PM

    Your blog is amazinggg! How did you get started on all of this?
    Plus you have such a unqiue sense of style, extremely innovative

  6. Ian

    2008-11-03 at 7:06 PM

    That gown with the matisse inspired colorful leaf print is wonderful. I wish I could zip across country to see it. Yves was really a gifted creator. What an exciting show that looks to be.

  7. K-Line

    2008-11-03 at 7:07 PM

    Susie: I saw this in Montreal this summer – with my daughter. I took a couple of pics before the security people told me they’d break my arms if I took any more (joking – but they weren’t friendly). We LOVED it. Thanks for getting that shot of the the Love Me Forever coat. This was my daughter’s favourite!

  8. Winnie

    2008-11-03 at 7:38 PM

    I read your blog everyday and it’s bookmarked on my google reader..thanks for the amazing post and the images. Can’t wait to the show in person.

  9. Hapsical London Fashion Blog

    2008-11-03 at 8:57 PM

    How exciting… love the Mondrian dresses. I do hope this exhibition comes to the UK or somewhere Europe at least, and it’s great you were allowed to take photos (unlike in some other famous places which hold fashion exhibs, *cough* V&A *cough*, where they ban photography AND fail to provide any decent postcards/catalogues).

  10. lisa

    2008-11-03 at 8:58 PM

    Amazing to see the variety of inspiration sources he drew from. It looks like a great exhibit!

  11. KD

    2008-11-03 at 9:18 PM

    He was a genius, no doubt about it! Thank you so much for sharing, or else I would have thought of him as “a genius but not a very current one” but now I shall be investigating like mad! It’s all so incredible!

  12. rosa

    2008-11-03 at 9:46 PM

    i wish i had attended the press preview and snapped pictures of all those beauties…my visit to the exhibit yesterday was much suffered, i so wanted to touch every single garment on show. i must have looked like the biggest freak with my nose at 2cm from the garments for extra accurate inspection! I was much shocked by the bow dress…the way that oversized pink bow hangs from the black minimalist velvet is just perfect…

  13. Dee

    2008-11-03 at 10:06 PM

    I’ve drooled all over my keyboard. So. Gorgeous. You *know* I’m loving the Mondrian-inspired dresses. I do hope it comes to the UK.

  14. fashion herald

    2008-11-03 at 10:36 PM

    YSL must be one of the most artistic designers ever – his use of color is truly painterly, and not in the sense of what we saw last season.

  15. Brigadeiro

    2008-11-03 at 10:37 PM

    YSL was such a creative genius, and his incredible designs timeless & so innovative! Thanks for sharing, Susie!

  16. Prêt à Porter P

    2008-11-03 at 10:52 PM

    thank you so much for these pictures. i wish these things came to wear i lived.
    could you believe for some reason, i used to not like yves saint laurent, until i was forced to do a presentation on him in college (we drew designer’s name out of a hat, and i was groaning that i got yves saint laurent) and when i was finished i realized what a dummy i was!!
    he was (and its a shame i have to say ‘was’) an incredible talent!!
    i think mcqueen did a similar dress the the 2nd one in his “hitchcock heroine” collection, a couple of yrs ago.
    the cocoon wedding dress! is unforgettable, that image has been in mind for yrs and yrs.

  17. Sister Wolf

    2008-11-04 at 2:57 AM

    Fantastic photos!!!!!

  18. eliza

    2008-11-04 at 3:22 AM

    i was indeed one of the lucky ones who saw it in montreal. i went with one fashion obsessed buddy of mine and one buddy who wasn’t all that concerned with fashion to begin with..it was really interesting to see the different reactions, but more interesting and breathtaking to see such intricate and beautiful clothing up close…and i’m talking reallly close, i grazed one of the african themed dresses and thaught i might set off a buzzer or something! my favorite remains the wedding dress though.

  19. Songy

    2008-11-04 at 4:50 AM

    remarkable indeed. That cocoon thing is utter craziness. Very interesting tho. I wonder if this will come down under as well!?

  20. Poster Girl

    2008-11-04 at 6:24 AM

    Wow, your photos are incredible. They make me want to see the exhibition even more!

  21. kim

    2008-11-04 at 7:43 AM

    The fashion museums I’ve visited never allowed me to take pictures with flash (or even pictures at all in some cases) as the flash could damage old fabrics. So my pictures usually end up gloomy & gritty.

  22. kim

    2008-11-04 at 7:55 AM

    Posted too soon, sorry for the double-post.
    One exhibition I got so absorbed in the moment that I lifted a sleeve on a coat to see how the cape was stitched. The guards were not pleased and I felt like a complete idiot. One of them kept following me through the entire museum, like a criminal :/

  23. sugarxnspice

    2008-11-04 at 9:04 AM

    I love fashion exhibitions – the last I visited was the Chanel mobile art which was truly amazing.
    Just to share with you, Yves’ personal art collection that was spectacular. With so many inspirations close at reach at home, no wonder his own collection is of such rich intensity and full of references.

  24. eric Carriere

    2008-11-04 at 2:32 PM

    I saw this while it was in montreal, and by far his “shakespearian” dress was my favorite. All the meticulous detail astonished my brain!
    I also couldn’t keep my eye off the russian inspired pieces. they were beautiful.

  25. Janavi

    2008-11-04 at 10:41 PM

    Thanks so much for posting this. Did you happen to notice if it’s coming to NY?

  26. Anne

    2008-11-07 at 5:37 AM

    I went to the exhibit in montreal and i made sure to sneak a touch at the mondrian dresses! it was great! good thing i didnt get caught haha!

  27. michelle

    2008-11-30 at 10:18 AM

    I saw this display in montreal, it was breathe taking

  28. maddie

    2009-01-12 at 4:58 AM

    This is probs the most fantastic exhibition i’ve ever seen
    Can’t seem to find any images on the web that suffice, is it ok if I use some of your pictures?

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