The first of two new museums dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent has been opened in Paris, offering a glimpse into the world of the shy, mysterious man who revolutionised women’s fashion.
The Paris mansion where Saint Laurent shook up dress codes for more than three decades has been turned into an exhibition space for his haute couture creations. A larger museum, also paid for by the foundation set up by his late lover and business partner Pierre Bergé to safeguard Saint Laurent’s legacy, opens next month in Marrakesh.
The Moroccan city was one of the couple’s favourite places, where Saint Laurent would often sketch out his collections.
“Coco Chanel liberated women, but Yves Saint Laurent gave them power,” Bergé once said. He did this by appropriating the symbols of the traditional male wardrobe – dinner jackets, safari suits and jumpsuits – and remaking them for women.
“I had noticed men were much more confident in their clothes,” said Saint Laurent, who died in 2008, in a rare interview. “So I sought through trouser suits, trench coats, tuxedos and pea coats to give women the same confidence.”
His black tuxedo for women, known as le smoking – often worn over bare flesh – caused a scandal in 1966, with the New York socialite Nan Kempner dropping her trousers when she was told by a Manhattan restaurant that women would not be admitted in such attire.
Saint Laurent would later design a jacket as a thigh-skimming mini dress just as Kempner, one of his best customers, had worn it.
The heart of the Paris museum is Saint Laurent’s studio, the inner sanctum where he would work night and day in the run-up to his shows. It remains just as he left it in 2002, his desk festooned with photos of his inner circle of glamorous female friends, including Catherine Deneuve, Bianca Jagger and Paloma Picasso. But pride of…