Hailed as one of the 20th century’s leading fashion designers, Yves Saint Laurent made an explosive entry into the fashion world in 1958 as the wunderkind successor to Christian Dior.
The influential French designer gained fame and esteem with his transformational approach to women’s couture in the sixties and seventies that introduced his revolutionary menswear-inspired designs.
He later was honored during a black-tie gala in 1983 at the world-renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the first-ever exhibition devoted entirely to the work of a living designer was placed on display.
The retrospective exhibit at the museum showcased his designs spanning 25 years of his career and included 150 styles. Following the exhibition in New York, retrospectives also were displayed in Beijing, Moscow, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo and St. Petersburg, Russia.
The revered designer, who is perhaps best known for changing the way modern women dress and his ready-to-wear luxury fashions, died from brain cancer in 2008 at the age of 71.
Today, Saint Laurent’s memory and designs are kept alive at the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris and Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech, Morocco. The opening of both museums occurred in October, coming more than 15 years after the haute couture house closed its doors.
Located within the historic mansion of the former YSL fashion house at 5 avenue Marceau, the Yves Saint Laurent Paris Museum “reflects both the creative genius of the fashion designer and the process of creating haute couture collections,” according to the museum’s website. It also highlights the “history of the 20th century and haute couture that accompanied a certain lifestyle now disappeared.”
The Paris museum presents a continuously renewed program of alternating retrospective and themed temporary exhibitions that retrace the life — both personal and professional — of one of the most stellar fashion designers of the 20th century. The museum also showcases his sketches and iconic haute couture creations to be witnessed by generations to come.
For those wanting to get a glimpse inside Saint Laurent’s atelier, where you can see some of the designer’s specially preserved garments, plan to book ahead for your opportunity to experience this once-a-month, one-hour viewing session.
The larger of the two museums, the Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech Museum is located near the designer’s former home and next to the Majorelle Garden, which he’d purchased and rehabilitated in the 1980s.
The expansive museum comprises a permanent exhibition hall devoted to Saint Laurent’s essential work, which contains many of his Moroccan-inspired designs.
It also offers a hall for temporary exhibitions; a research library containing a collection of more than 5,000 donated and acquired books; a state-of-the-art auditorium used as a performance, projection or conference space; and a cafe.