Sunday, November 16, 2008
An Evening of Yves Saint Laurent with ArtPoint
ArtPoint, the young professionals arts organization of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco celebrated the new YSL exhibit at the de Young Museum on Thursday night with a sparkling cocktail party and private viewing of the exhibition. Almost 1,000 attendees showed off their best YSL-inspired fashions across the main floor and exhibit area, as well as the private lounge on the top floor Observation Deck. For this unseasonably warm and clear night in San Francisco, the view made it extremely hard for me to tear myself away from the party. But the drama of YSL below could wait no longer.
First, I must confess that when I think of YSL I always see the designer with his trademark glasses first - and after that, visions of black with Le Smoking and form-fitting vixen dresses to vamp up the night. Gliding across the top of the park in this magnificent building with the black of night reflecting against the champagne glasses and jewels of party dresses, I had to think of YSL and his feelings on the color black: “But for me, Black is a refuge because it expresses what I want. With it, everything becomes simpler, more linear, more dramatic.” The freedom to use black and not color as an expression for what you're wearing is so much bolder and has left such an imprint on the wardrobes of women. We always turn to basic black because it's the easiest way to convey professionalism, neatness and elegance at the same time. But do we think of it in relation to our environment and the places we go? YSL loved this idea, but when creating against the grey backdrop of Paris it makes sense that he consistently brought pops of color into his collections.
The retrospective at the de Young covers an enormous span of YSL's life and influences, including the very first pieces for Dior, still in the older style of trapeze dresses and swingy skirts. His take on Masculine-Feminine dressing is represented, including his pantsuit with YSL logo glittered on back and original sketches of Le Smoking. His color-blocked and still widely replicated Mondrian dresses were present, and his most far-reaching departure, the Morocco collections, where he discovered and experimented with a new color palette. Unexpected and exquisite were his Flora inspired gowns from his 1990 summer collection - a tribute to his childhood in Marrakech and Tangier. Adding even more whimsy, there is the wedding dress of roses carefully placed and originally worn by Laetitia Casta in the 1999 collection. The retrospective is worth a second trip alone just to absorb the many visions and inspirations. Never simply an outfit, YSL's designs were a manifestation of his dreams and memories - movement and elegance wrapped together in fabric and nostalgia.