Yves Saint Laurent exhibition in Denver

The highlight of my week-long business trip to Denver was the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective at the Denver Art Museum. It is the same exhibition that took place in Paris two years ago (and which I blogged on here). Once again, it was a great opportunity to remember Saint Laurent’s genius and wonder at his elegant, chic and oh so Parisian collections.

The retrospective starts with designs Yves Saint Laurent created when he took over the head of Christian Dior in 1958 after the passing of the great designer. Can you believe Saint Laurent was only 22 then?

Yves Saint Laurent then established his own house with his business and life partner Pierre Bergé. Some of his designs have become iconic and largely imitated though they were quite revolutionary at the time.

The suit for women is the most famous example. I remember being told of Saint Laurent’s friend and muse Nan Kempner wearing one to a restaurant in New York City. She was denied entrance because of it and decided to lose the pants so that the long jacket would give the illusion of a dress.

A room is dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent’s friendship with Catherine Deneuve and their collaboration on several of her films. I love the dress he designed for Belle de Jour in 1967; one would never suspect Séverine of hiding such naughty secrets with her strict and elegant look.

The 1971 collection was scandalous in its time. Critics called it vulgar and of bad taste, which I find ironic now that most designers dream of reaching this level of elegance.

Although Yves Saint Laurent rarely traveled abroad apart from Morocco, he was influenced by exotic lands like Africa, China and Russia. Likewise, his love of art reflected in his designs with dresses inspired by Mondrian and other artists.

The most impressive display is the tuxedo room showcasing the multiple variations of one iconic design over several decades. Yet the part of the exhibition that really took my breath away was the final one with the ball gowns. The picture below is only a small part of the display and not true to how elegant and beautiful it was. I wish I could have snapped away but – alas – a guard was glaring at me.

I truly believe Yves Saint Laurent will go down in history as the greatest designer of the 20th century. I wonder how Hedi Slimane, now head designer at Saint Laurent Paris, will use his heritage in his upcoming collections, if at all.

You are invited to Monsieur Christian Dior’s ball

Have you ever pictured yourself attending a lavish ball with women dressed in the most elaborate gowns? I was brought one step closer to this dream in the childhood home of Christian Dior. More than 50 haute-couture ball gowns are on show there until the end of the month, with designs by Christian Dior from the 1950s and by John Galliano, the designer of the house since 1997. Following the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective, here are a few pictures I took on the sly once again to show you these luxurious party dresses. Which one would you wear to the ball?

Christian Dior had a thing for balls. Born in 1905, he was nostalgic of the excesses of the Belle Époque and developed a love for disguises and parties from a young age at the carnivals of his hometown of Granville in Normandy. The first piece of the exhibition is a replica of the “King of Animals”, the costume he wore at the 1949 Kings and Queens ball. Quite suiting for a party animal, right?

Christian Dior’s first collection in 1947 revolutionized fashion and defined his style as a designer. Right after World War II, women wore short skirts with padded-shoulder jackets. It was out of the question during these times of hardships to think about pleasures and luxuries. Yet, Dior’s New Look was all about the latter. His collection stood out by its refined beauty, the endless lengths of fine fabrics, its exquisite embroideries and floral details. Fashion was back to its old tricks: making women dream and feel the desire to look beautiful. The New Look was also the birth of a new silhouette reminiscent of a flower: round shoulders, a wasp waist and a full skirt.

50 years after the New Look collection, John Galliano became the designer of the Christian Dior house and has proven to be more than worthy of his position. His haute-couture collections are impressive by his talent and the complexity of his designs, his love for lavish shows and dramatization.

My favorite piece from the exhibition is this ivory gown from the 1997 couture collection that was worn by Lauren Bush at the 2000 Bal des Débutantes.

The star of the exhibition however is the couture dress actress Eva Green wears in the ad for the Dior fragrance Midnight Poison. This gown is a real work of art in itself with its complex structure and embroideries.

In my next post, I will show you more of the exhibition and the childhood home of Christian Dior. In the meantime, you can see official pictures of the exhibition right here!

Vous êtes-vous déjà imaginé danser dans un somptueux bal, entouré de femmes à l’élégance presque démesurée ? Dior vous y invite au sein de la maison d’enfance du créateur à Granville. Plus de 50 robes haute-couture y sont exposées jusqu’à la fin du mois, dont des créations de Christian Dior des années 1950 et de John Galliano, directeur de la création depuis 1997. Suite à la rétrospective de l’œuvre d’Yves Saint Laurent, un autre grand génie de la couture qui a travaillé chez Christian Dior, voici quelques photos prises en cachette pour partager avec vous ces habits de fête. Quelle robe porteriez-vous au bal ?

Christian Dior était un grand amateur de bals. Né en 1905, il a gardé la nostalgie de la Belle Epoque et le goût des déguisements et des fêtes développé pendant son enfance lors des carnavals de Granville en Normandie. L’exposition démarre sur cette réplique du costume du « Roi des Animaux » qu’il a porté lors du Bal des Rois et des Reines en 1949.

Pour comprendre l’essence du style Christian Dior, il faut connaître la révolution du New Look. Nous sommes au lendemain de la Seconde guerre mondiale. Les femmes portent des jupes courtes et des vestes aux épaules carrées. Il est mal vu dans ces temps de pénuries de penser aux plaisirs et au superflu… que Christian Dior va pourtant remettre au goût du jour en 1947. Ses modèles sont d’une beauté recherchée, exigent des longueurs de tissu démesurées et ravissent par leurs broderies et leurs ornementations florales. La mode reprend son plus beau rôle : elle fait rêver. Pour Christian Dior, c’est « le retour à l’art de plaire » et l’épanouissement de la femme fleur : épaules douces, taille fine, hanches arrondies.

50 ans plus tard, John Galliano s’impose comme le digne héritier de Christian Dior par son génie en matière de couture, son goût de la théâtralisation et le faste de ses défilés de mode.

Mon modèle préféré? Cette robe ivoire de la collection haute-couture 1997 portée par Lauren Bush au Bal des Débutantes en 2000.

La star et le bouquet final de l’exposition: la robe portée par Eva Green dans la publicité pour le parfum Midnight Poison lancé par Dior en 2007. Etonnant par sa structure complexe et  son travail de broderies, ce modèle est un vrai tour de force haute-couture !

Dans mon prochain billet, je vous parlerai de la suite de l’exposition et de la maison d’enfance de Christian Dior à Granville. En attendant, vous pouvez voir des photos officielles des robes du Grand Bal de Dior ici. A bientôt !