Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style


Rachel Svinth

Yves Saint Laurent outfits being modeled by mannequins.

Rachel Svinth , Reporter

Alluring, captivating and mysterious. The Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at Seattle Art Museum creates an emotional journey through the seemingly endless textile corridors and detailed arrays of mannequins.

Passing away in June, 2008, Yves Saint Laurent left behind a fashion empire and legacy of eternal style. Starting in the 50’s, the French designer greatly influenced women’s ready-to-wear fashion by approaching it with a modern elegance and versatility. Deemed one of the greatest names in fashion history, Yves Saint Laurent lived a life of mystery and glamour, an aspect perfectly captured within the exhibit.

After half a mile of walking through downtown Seattle, I finally made my journey up the daunting and stark white staircases of SAM. I waited through a long line of excited exhibit goers, bought my ticket, and made my way through more white hallways, occasionally sprinkled with art pieces. It was at that moment I saw the entrance to the exhibit.

The expansive room was barely lit, little strands of light from the ceiling reflected off of a partition, showcasing a bold explanation of the impact and life of Yves Saint Laurent. The emotion was nearly bouncing off the wall, a feeling of solitude, captivation, and enigmatic uncertainty filled me and the large group of strangers that surrounded.

Continuing down the hall, a narrow groove displayed the artwork and designs YSL created as a child, gave a glimpse of family photos, and then opened up to another large room. One wall was lined with framed fabrics, textiles, and rough sketches. The other side, a display of fashions, such as the 1970 “Love Me Forever or Never” wedding gown.

Scratchy footage from the 1998 World Cup in France showcased an elaborate fashion show, and furthered my understanding of the immense impact he made on the world. Every section of the exhibit seemed to spawn ubiquitous emotion.

Traveling from an open, airy room filled with clean designs and phenomenal textiles, there was a captivating display amongst some of Andy Warhol’s art pieces. The pop-culture references within YSL designs and the exhibit were enthralling, and kept me feeling connected and submerged in the rich art.

Finishing the exhibit, a single portrait of Yves Saint Laurent by Andy Warhol hung in a silent corner, coupled with Laurent’s famous quote: “Fashion fades, style is eternal.”

I never thought that a fashion exhibit could portray such heavy emotion and provoke such climacteric thoughts within me the way Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style did. The exhibit runs until Sunday, January 8th, but Laurent’s passion and sentiment will continue on forever.