When walking down the streets of Paris, you just can’t miss the street posters promoting the current exhibition at Musée Yves Saint Laurent. A naked woman sits on a sofa, with her icy blonde hair and big sunglasses. It’s of course the iconic Betty Catroux. In 2020, the YSL museum is devoting a special exhibition to Catroux, the one and only Saint Laurent “female double.” The pieces displayed in the exhibition come from a major donation Betty Catroux has made to the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent back in 2002. The museum gave Anthony Vaccarello (Saint Laurent’s creative director) carte blanche for curating this event. The designer approached Betty Catroux’s wardrobe from an aesthetic perspective by selecting the pieces that best reveal her unique personality and ongoing influence on the label’s signature style. “She lives and breathes Saint Laurent. An allure, a mystery, an almost nefarious aspect, an elusive yet desirable nature, all that underlies the house’s aura, and you understand the magnitude of it when you meet Betty.” That elusive aura is perceivable all over the space. Approximately fifty designs show the extent to which Betty Catroux embodied Yves Saint Laurent’s physical ideal and an attitude echoing the “masculine/feminine style” that he was developing when they first met at the nightclub The New Jimmy’s in 1967. Yves immediately fell in love with her androgynous look, which was radically different from the usual codes of femininity and seductiveness and remains the subject of ongoing fascination. Below are some photos I took during my visit. To read more about the museum, here’s the post I wrote about the place when I was here about a year ago.
All photos by Edward Kanarecki.
(P.S. If you are inspired by my Parisian coverage, I’m really happy about, but please have in mind that now isn’t a safe time for any sorts of travelling. Stay at home!)