Arts & Culture

Virginia is for Fashion Lovers

A new Yves Saint Laurent exhibition opens in Richmond

Photo: © Pierre Boulat courtesy Association Pierre & Alexandra Boulat

Yves Saint Laurent with Victoire in preparation of the first collection in December 1961.

Fashion history buffs, mark your calendars. Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style opens Saturday, May 6, at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art in Richmond, featuring photos, color swatches, drawings, and more than 100 haute couture and ready-to-wear garments from every stage of the influential designer’s career.

Photo: © Fondation Pierre Bergé—Yves Saint Laurent, Paris

Spring-Summer 1971 haute couture collection board, Yves Saint Laurent (French, 1936-2008). Mixed media on thick grid paper pinned with fabric swatches.

Though Algerian-born Saint Laurent dreamed up his creations half a world away in France, he gravitated toward designs (and people) with distinct points of view, a quality stylish Southern women are known for. “Southerners share with Yves Saint Laurent a sense of individuality, elegance, charm, and wit,” says Dr. Michael R. Taylor, VMFA’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education. “When you look at the evolution of Saint Laurent’s work, you’ll see a designer who was constantly breaking the rules and rethinking the fashion industry. He transformed the female wardrobe by borrowing the tuxedo, the safari jacket, and the pantsuit from men’s clothing. By turning traditional menswear into haute couture, Saint Laurent empowered and liberated women from the constraints of tradition. I see something very Southern in that he did this at a time when no other designer would have dared to suggest women could wear pants.”

Photo: © Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, Paris. Photo: Gérard Pataa

First Pantsuit, Yves Saint Laurent, worn by Ulla. Fall-Winter 1966 haute couture collection.

Photo: © Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, Paris. Photo: Alexandre Guirkinger

Hommage to Piet Mondrian, Yves Saint Laurent, cocktail dress. Fall-Winter 1965 haute couture collection. Wool jersey dress.

From photos of Yves Saint Laurent working in his studio to the revolutionary Mondrian-influenced shift from 1965 to his first women’s tux in 1966, the exhibition is a parade of his greatest hits. It runs through August 2017. Click here for more informationand below for a sampling of what will be on display.