All that glitters was Yves Saint Laurent’s obsession: From buttons and jewelry to dresses and coats – GOLD was the ingredient to the unique glamour of his designs. The Musée Yves Saint Laurent in Paris currently stages an exhibition in honor of the designer’s passion for gold and is – as usual – worth a visit when in the city of lights. But no matter if you’ll be around in Paris or not, MADAME FACTION has got you covered when it comes to Yves Saint Laurent’s gold exhibition and its intriguing chapter of fashion history.
The POWER of the YSL WOMAN
Gabrielle Chanel thought Yves Saint Laurent to be her legit successor when it came to the powerful yet elegant fashion for women. Yves Saint Laurent knew how to dress the modern and independent woman without creating cartoon-esque amazons. The YSL woman is young, confident, and powerful, but her charisma does not rely on extravagant and theatrical fashion. Choosing gold details as well as gold looks did mean a lot of attention for the YSL wearers but in a calmly authoritative way.
The AURA of GOLD
Gold was and still is connoted with prosperity, power and sway: Those, who wear gold are (or aspire to be) financially, culturally and socially superior. From ancient gods and goddesses, past and present aristocracy to disco queens and 80s career women all of them relied on the radiance of gold when claiming their sovereign positions. And “majestic” is certainly one very fine adverb for Yves Saint Laurent’s golden fashion.
Talking about “sovereignty” we must take a closer look at one special dress. In 1966 Saint Laurent designed a long evening dress, covered by sequins and precious stones provoking many connotations: It somehow resembles armors from the Middle Ages but also evokes the images of mermaids. Hence the most obvious source of inspiration seems to be Egyptian painting, Cleopatra, and the costumes of Liz Taylor in the eponymous film by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1963).
Yves Saint Laurent started with golden buttons and other details and then – peu à peu – designed entirely golden outfits. Mastering this art of course meant finding exquisite fabrics: Brocade, lace, lamé, lurex, sequins, leather, embroidery, and many more would be part of Saint Laurent’s gold legacy.
“An evening should glow; otherwise, it’s a bit absurd.”
Yves Saint Laurent sources of inspiration were manifold: Together with his life-long partner Pierre Bergé he collected applied art and established one of the most profiled interior collections of the 20th century proving their passion for gilded objects (find gilt wood screens and many more gold gems on Sotheby’s) Furthermore the sun-filled landscapes as well as the distinctive styles of Saint Laurent’s homes in the Normandy , in Marrakech and Oran provided him with lots of inspiration with their colors and (golden) decoration. Finally, it was Loulou de la Falaise, jewelry and accessories designer and Saint Laurent’s long-time partner-in-crime and muse, who certainly did her part to inspire Saint Laurent’s lifelong love for everything that glitters as the Yves Saint Laurent’s gold exhibition illustrates very well.
GOLD - then & now
At the young age of 15 Yves Saint Laurent said to his family, that his name would be inscribed in gold letters on the Champs-Elysées one day. With the support of Pierre Bergé he founded his Maison de Couture only ten years later. It was the graphic designer Cassandre, who had already worked for Christian Dior logo, who created the iconic YSL logo, that still is present at the same address today.