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Yves Saint Laurent Exhibit Spanning 40 Years Opens at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Yves Saint Laurent, Cocktail Dress Spring-Summer 1992. Gazar, wide brimmed sun hat with sequin emboidery. Ceramic pendant earrings. Crepe pumps. Fondation Pierre Berge - Yves Saint Laurent. Inv. 1992 PE 45. Photo: Alexandre Guirkinger.

MONTREAL.- In partnership with the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are presenting the first retrospective spanning the forty years of creativity of the Maison Haute Couture Yves Saint Laurent. Presented from May 29 to September 28, 2008, the exhibition Yves Saint Laurent focusses on this virtuoso of haute couture, whose unique style blends references to the world of art with allusions to pop culture and social revolution. Structured around four themes, the exhibition develops the revolutionary nature of a body of work that has marked both the past and the present with a new definition of femininity and left a signature that transcends fashion. The display will include 145 accessorized creations belonging to the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, as well as drawings and videos. After Montreal, the exhibition will be presented at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, from November 1, 2008, to March 1, 2009.

Yves Saint Laurent is famed for revolutionizing the haute couture tradition and laying the foundations of modern women’s wear. The wardrobe basics that he designed – pantsuit, culotte skirt, pea coat, blazer, safari jacket and tuxedo ­– shone with his innovative style and became true timeless classics. His designs were equally remarkable, reflecting wide-ranging sources of inspiration. In Saint Laurent’s stylistic vocabulary, music, art, performance, literature and impressions of far-off places were just as important as the new shapes he introduced.

The exhibition’s themes
The exhibition will be divided into four themes: “Masterful Pencil Strokes,” where the designer’s idea is followed from the original sketch; “The YSL Revolution,” where feminized versions of men’s attire rub shoulders with seductive apparel; “The Palette,” which shows how traditional rules of colour harmony were reversed in new contrasts inspired by cross-fertilization; and “Lyrical Sources,” which explores the historical, literary (Proust, Oscar Wilde, Louis Aragon, Jean Cocteau…) and artistic influences that were interpreted and translated by this genius of couture. Throughout his career, Yves Saint Laurent has taken the time to examine the work of the great artists of our day, expressing his personal tastes and the paintings he admires by transforming painting into fabric. Some of his models take up the visual sensations of Impressionism, while others liberate the expressive power of some of the great names and movements of modern art: Mondrian and Poliakoff in 1965, the Pop Art dresses in 1966, Picasso in 1979 and Braque in 1988.

Yves Saint Laurent, Biographical Notes
Born in 1936, Yves Saint Laurent spent his childhood in Algeria. Moving to Paris in 1954 to take design courses at the Chambre syndicale de la haute couture, he caught the eye of Christian Dior and was hired as his assistant the following year. He took the reins of the House of Dior after the master’s death in 1957 and swiftly rose to triumphant fame with his Trapeze line. In 1958, he met Pierre Bergé, then a theatre director and stage producer, who went on to manage his career. With Bergé’s help, Saint Laurent founded his own maison de haute couture. On January 29, 1962, he unveiled his first collection under the Yves Saint Laurentlabel, an array of dazzling creations stamped with the inimitable style for which he will always be known. Pioneering the couturier move into the ready-to-wear market, Saint Laurent also designed costumes and sets for such famous ballets and plays as Cyrano de Bergerac (1959) and The Marriage of Figaro (1964), and for films including The Pink Panther (1963) and Stavisky (1974). He also dressed a number of actresses, the most famous being Catherine Deneuve. On January 7, 2002, Yves Saint Laurent announced to the press his retirement and the closure of his maison de haute couture. On January 22, a crowd of 2,000 admirers from around the world gathered to celebrate his career at a valedictory fashion show staged in Paris. Since stepping down, he has worked with Pierre Bergé managing the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, which holds a remarkable collection of more than 5,000 ensembles and 15,000 objects that trace the history of the House of Yves Saint Laurent. Yves Saint Laurent not only transformed the world of women’s fashion, but is also the first living haute couture designer to be honoured by a museum. In 1983, the Metropolitan Museum of Art presented the very first exhibition on Yves Saint Laurent, which later travelled to Beijing, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Paris, Sydney and Tokyo. In 1985, he was awarded the “Oscar du plus grand couturier” at the Paris Opera House for lifetime achievement in fashion.

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