Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style (Seattle Art Museum)

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I don't often find myself at a loss for words, but the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit, The Perfection of Style had me speechless when I visited the Seattle Art Museum at the beginning of November. The exhibit, which opened October 16th and will be at SAM until January 8th, shows drawings, sketches, writings, and clothing created by Saint Laurent throughout his entire life. Seeing up close the hand sewn details on his elaborate designs was like a dream come true for me. I was in awe of the different fabrics, carefully picked colors, and process of creating one of a kind patterns. It felt like a true and intimate glimpse into Saint Laurent's creative process.

 One of the first stops in the exhibit displays his own paper dolls he created in the mid 1950s. This is the first time they've been on display in the United States. Even the first pieces of art he created in his teenage years, including the paper dolls and various drawings for stories he wrote show that he had something special from the start. The attention to detail combined with a unique touch of style shows Yves Saint Laurent was a natural talent from the very beginning. Take a look at these gorgeous drawings below.

With over 100 looks on display, the exhibit shows the evolution of Saint Laurent's creations throughout the changing eras of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, along with his changing personal life through those years. Starting in the 60s, his creations exude prep and prestige through sailor stripes, clean lines, and structured outerwear. The transition into the 1970s includes longer silhouettes and garments with a little more flow and movement. There is also a noticeable change in colors, where Saint Laurent moved in deep browns, purples, and reds. Along the outer walls of the exhibit are photos of his sketches for each collection. The simple pencil drawings reveal part of his process as a designer and show his attention to detail even in the most preliminary stages of design.

Yves Saint Laurent is credited for creating the first woman's pantsuit. To see his suit designs was incredible. I've loved him as a designer for a long time, but the fact that he changed the direction of fashion by empowering women with pantsuits makes me admire him even more. Innovation, uniqueness, and empowering women are just a few of the things Saint Laurent accomplished throughout his long-lasting fashion career.

As he continued to create an ever-evolving catalog of innovative and industry-changing looks, Saint Laurent began to draw inspiration from various artists, most notably Andy Warhol and Piet Mondrian. We see this in his Mondrian shift dress and various garments featuring color-blocking and geometric shapes and patterns. The use of modern art in his creations show the convergence of fashion and art during the midcentury decades and how the two are intrinsically connected.

One of my favorite parts of the exhibit was toward the end. Each room was dedicated to a different color ranging from golds, silvers, and black to pinks, reds, and yellows. On display were all Saint Laurent's elegant and colorful evening gowns. Each one more stunning than the next.

If you live in Seattle or are visiting the city within the next few months, I highly recommend taking a day to see this exhibit. Viewing these incredible items in person reminded me that fashion is a true form of art. It takes a particular type of genius to create what Yves Saint Laurent did and having the privilege to see his collections with my own eyes awakened in me a new understanding of fashion and the designers in the industry.


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