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!)
Twinkling Tour Eiffel as the show’s backdrop? Incredible. Sebastian’s banging soundtrack? Wow. Naomi Campbell closing the show? Yay. And the clothes? Well, that’s the problem with Anthony Vaccarello‘s Saint Laurent from time to time. His spring-summer 2020 might have amazed with all the features, but in the end the clothes are the least exciting. Up to 100 looks, and most of them are either about short shorts and boots, or Yves’s iconic le smoking. Of course, the Loulou de la Falaise touches, nods to the ‘Russian’ collection from 1976 and forever chic YSL codes never get old, but Vaccarello’s result was, simply speaking, monotonous. And very predictable. But hey, that’s what Saint Laurent customers love and buy today. So why not give them what they want?
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Huge flourishes, bold gestures, broad strokes and silhouettes expressed in rich and gorgeous fabrics from double-faced cahmeres, meltons, and tweeds to failles, moirés, iridescent and flocked taffetas, radzimir (!), velvet and warp print statins. Marc Jacobs‘ autumn-winter 2018 wasn’t just a lesson on fabrics – it was a lesson of fashion. Inspired with the 80s mega-designers – Thierry Mugler, Claude Montana, Emanuel Ungaro, Christian Lacroix, Yves Saint Laurent – Marc had the very best to show in his spectacular collection. Polka-dots, big shoulders, XXL bows and ruffles – that’s a wardrobe of Mrs. Glam, who’s wearing a chic bolero hat. Jacobs, whose company is reportedly in a financial crisis, seems to show the middle finger towards commerce, for fashion’s sake. There’s no way you can’t respect that. And who knows – maybe that kind of extravagance will sell better, than any cheaper sister-line filled with sweatshirts? All the hope in the clients.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
The passing of Pierre Bérge, Yves Saint Laurent’s partner in private and business life, wasn’t meant to be reflected as a mourning in Anthony Vaccarello‘s third collection for Saint Laurent. Rather, the spring-summer 2018 collection was a celebration of the ‘l’amour fou’, the crazy love that the two shared. And that was a show that matches one word: grandiose!
From what should I start? The venue was an open-air platform situated in the most precious viewpoint in the French capital – yes, the twinkling Eiffel Tower was the runway’s backdrop! THAT’S PARIS, and Vaccarello loves to highlight that Saint Laurent is the most Parisian label you can think of, in terms of style and its faces (for Yves that was Catherine Deneuve; for Anthony it’s Charlotte Gainsbourg). Second, the collection with an impression that was just as strong as of the venue. It was divided in three parts, the women’s ready-to-wear, menswear and ‘modern-day’ couture. The first part was very lace-y, very bohème and Courtney Love / Lenny Kravitz-cool. In other words, that’s what you see a Parisienne wear on the streets, no bra, just pure confidence. Menswear was simple and chic. However, the couture-ish part was my favourite. What a contemporary ode to Yves and his memorable appreciation for the ‘custom-made’. Puff skirts and very, very mini-dresses of huge volumes (one of them was so short that the model’s panties were visible – they were elegantly embellished with a rhinestone Eiffel Tower). Use of feathers, that referred to YSL’s autumn-winter 1987 and his costumes for Zizi Jeanmarie, was killer. Can’t get enough of all these boas, feather-y shoulders and thigh-high boots covered in plumage. That was so over-the-top. A fashion moment I anticipated so much, but thought will not happen in this decade. With his best collection up-to-date, Vaccarello really proves that Saint Laurent is the perfect place for him. Bravo.
Collages by Edward Kanarecki.