The Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Paris is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the couturier’s first collection with an exhibition highlighting his love affair with glitz and gold.
The ‘Gold by Yves Saint Laurent' exhibition is open until May 14, 2022, and examines the role gold has played in the couturier’s work. It features more than forty haute couture and ready-to-wear dresses, accessories and jewellery and highlights how the colour gold has become essential to the Yves Saint Laurent silhouette.
From the very first buttons adorning his pea coats to dresses that appear entirely fashioned from gold, no collection has escaped the couturier’s “golden” touch. Saint Laurent's mastery of gold is seen throughout his use of brocade, lace, sequins, leather, and embroidery, whether through fabric, jewellery, perfume, or gold sparkles.
“I love gold, it is a magical colour; when reflecting a woman, it’s the colour of the sun,” said Saint Laurent.
The exhibition is curated by Elsa Janssen, director of the museum since March 2022, in association with the museum’s curatorial team and with the artistic collaboration of Anna Klossowski (daughter of Loulou de La Falaise and goddaughter of Yves Saint Laurent). It highlights Saint Laurent’s use of gold in a chrono-thematic journey through ornaments, fabrics and exquisite materials while celebrating how the hue has empowered women and how Saint Laurent popularised gold for women.
The colour gold is perceived as a sign of wealth, power, and prestige, and Saint Laurent used that symbolism to create pieces for a modern woman. The courtier showed that gold was more than about providing an aesthetic effect, he turned gold into a manifesto of feminine power. He used gold as a simple detail in a total look, such as in gold buttons, or through a play of material such as lamé, leather and brocade, or by the technique involved from braided fabrics to embroidery or quilting.
Standout looks include the jewelled dress designed from his autumn-winter 1966 collection and photographed by David Bailey, sequined dresses worn by Zizi Jeanmaire and Catherine Deneuve and a molten metal effect evening dress worn by Violeta Sanchez in the spring/summer 1981 haute couture collection. The exhibition also displays the Gypsy dress from the spring-summer 2000 haute couture collection featuring transparent fabric sprinkled with golden sparkles.
There is also a section dedicated to the couturier's use of gold buttons as jewels. From the wool pea coat inspired by a sailor’s wardrobe from his spring/summer 1962 haute couture collection complete with gilded buttons that evoked the braided rope used on board ship to the autumn/winter 1966 haute couture collection where buttons were used across cocktail and evening ensembles.
Alongside Saint Laurent’s creations, the museum invited the Belgian sculptor Johan Creten to exhibit five works to showcase how gold has always inspired artists.