Designing Yves Saint Laurent’s first UK retrospective

Designers come together to create “homage to and celebration of an extraordinary designer” as Bowes Museum hosts UK’s first retrospective.

Install shot of Yves Saint Laurent Style is Eternal at the Bowes Museum (c) Andy Barnham (2)

The first major retrospective exhibition of Yves Saint Lauren in the UK has opened at The Bowes Museum in County Durham.

The museum has partnered with Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent to bring to bear the exhibition Style is Eternal, focusing on the work and life of the French designer.

It sets out to show his vision, his ambition to dress all women – not just haute couture clientele – and the influence his work has had on the way we understand womenswear today.

The exhibition concept has been created by French consultancy Agence NC and led by architect Hélène Lecarpentier and founder and creative director Nathalie Criniere.

Yves Saint Laurent: “Fashion fades, style is eternal”

The title of the exhibition Style is Eternal is borrowed from the Yves Saint Laurent quote: “Fashion fades, style is eternal.”

The show is divisible by the themes: Art, Spectaculaire, Transparency, Masculin/Féminin, and The Alchemy of Style.

As well as more than 50 garments there are also original sketches, atelier specification sheets, collection boards and an array of accessories such as shoes and jewellery.

Exhibition catalogue follows Yves Saint Laurent’s philosophy

Consultancy Here has designed an accompanying exhibition catalogue having been tasked with creating what it calls a “highly desirable book that matched the argument, the ambition and aesthetic of the exhibition.”

Here sort to create a souvenir as opposed to “an assemblage of photographs and information” that could be useful and beautiful and approached the project in the same way it believed Yves Saint Laurent would have done.

The “fashion fades, style is eternal” mantra has been addressed on the front cover through the use of a blind embossed Yves Saint Laurent monogram.

“Care and craft” exercised by the designer have been considered through the use of mixed colour papers, different textures, exposed sewn binding, and short chapter inserts.

Bright pink stitching on binding references Zépherine dress

The bright pink stitching used in the open binding and end papers is a reference to the faille fabric Zépherine dress, which will be shown for the first time since it was seen at Blenheim Palace in 1958.

As the Alchemy of Style section of the exhibition is displayed in an all-white glass box, the corresponding section in the book has been printed on gloss paper to distinguish it from the preceding chapters.

Here partner and designer Caz Hildebrand says: Our work is both an homage to and a celebration of an extraordinary designer.”

Install shot of Yves Saint Laurent Style is Eternal at the Bowes Museum (c) Andy Barnham (1)Install shot of Yves Saint Laurent Style is Eternal at the Bowes Museum (c) Andy Barnham (4)

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Atelier’s Specification Sheet Spring-Summer 1986 haute couture collection Mixed media and collage on thick perforated grid paper sewn with a fabric swatch. Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, Paris
Portrait of Yves Saint Laurent 1986_©Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent  Guy Marineau
Portrait of Yves Saint Laurent 1986_©Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent. Guy Marineau.
(8) Short evening gown worn by Marina Schiano (c) the Estate of Jeanloup Sieff
Short evening gown worn by Marina Schiano (c) the Estate of Jeanloup Sieff
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Bowes Museum

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