Monday, April 30, 2012
If you go
What: “Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective” exhibit at the Denver Art Museum
When: Exhibit is up through July 8. The Denver Art Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Where: The Denver Art Museum is part of the Civic Center Cultural Complex on 13th Avenue between Broadway and Bannock streets in downtown Denver.
Cost: Tickets are $22 for adults, $18 for seniors and college students, $14 for children 6 to 18, and free for children 5 and younger.
Online: Visit www.denverartmuseum.org
Denver While many of us skiers have complained about the lack of snow this winter, a bright side has been clear roads that make for easy day trips. I just came back from the Denver Art Museum, where I visited the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit, covering his work from 1958 to near his death in 2008. If you like beautiful clothes and sumptuous fabrics, this exhibit will inspire you.
The exhibit emphasizes how Saint Laurent was in tune with women’s needs by designing clothes in which they could go comfortably to work. His lines liberated women from clothes requiring girdles. I was startled to learn that before Saint Laurent introduced pant suits, women (except for the female writer George Sand, 1804-1896) had never worn them to work or as elegant evening attire.
The displays are interspersed with videos and movies depicting how Saint Laurent, a tall, handsome man, himself always dapperly dressed, selected the fabrics and drew and draped the clothes. Some of the movies were taken in his artistically furnished home in Marrakech, Morocco.
His designs were heavily influenced by the styles of China, Russia and Africa, and by artists like Piet Mondrian and Claude Monet. Clothes worn by the rich and famous such as Princess Grace of Monaco, Nan Kempner and the Duchess of Windsor are elegantly presented at the Denver Art Museum.
Parts of the 1967 film “Belle de Jour,” the story of a bored French housewife played by Catherine Deneuve, for whom Saint Laurent designed the clothes, are flashed on a screen.
The exhibit is inspirational not only because of the stunning clothes and the appropriate background music provided by the museum, but because it also tells the story of what can be done with talent and daring. Saint Laurent was among the first haute couturiers to break away from the custom clothes sewing methods and offer chic, ready-to-wear attire.
The exhibition includes his dazzling evening clothes as well as his practical side. Who of a certain age doesn’t remember his popular pea coat, whose design he borrowed from the French navy?
The Yves Saint Laurent show came to be in Denver quite serendipitously. Museum director Christoph Heinrich was abroad on a Denver Art Museum donor trip a couple of years ago and had a free day in Paris. He went on his own to see the retrospective of Saint Laurent at the Petit Palais. Like the rest of the Parisian viewers, he was wowed. He contacted Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent’s longtime partner in life and business and the head of the designer’s foundation, to see if the exhibition could travel to the Denver Art Museum.
If you go, you’ll be as wowed as Christoph Heinrich and the Parisians who saw it at the Petit Palais were. And remember, the roads are clear.
For more information, visit www.denverartmuseum.org.
Edith Lynn Beer is a local author and journalist who will teach “Writing a Successful Book” and “Writing a Meaningful Article” courses at CMC this summer. For course information, call 970-870-4444.