When Denver Art Museum director, the charming Christoph Heinrich, began listing the reasons why Denver was the only choice for the exclusive U.S. appearance of the Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective, I was worried he was going to say “Because if it was good enough for Peyton Manning, it was good enough for YSL.” Thankfully, he’s far too smart to say such a thing (although with breath-by-breath tracking of Manning, I wouldn’t be surprised). Instead, he said “1. Because Denver has the most beautiful women, 2. the weather is so good and 3. the Hamilton Building was built to host world-class shows from world-class artists.” Good answers!
I was fortunate enough to join several other members of the media at a sneak peek of Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective, the new
exhibit running at the Denver Art Museum March 25 – July 8. We were even more fortunate to be given a personal tour by the tres chic Florence Mueller, chief curator of the exhibit. Looking every bit exactly the vision of a French woman with her diminutive bob hairstyle, red lipstick, black YSL dress and black with white polka dot, peep-toe shoes, she led us through the exhibit telling tales.
Even those who don’t particularly care about fashion will find the exhibit interesting. Yves Saint Laurent clearly loved women and designed to accentuate their form, enhancing both their beauty and power. Although he didn’t like to travel, he poured over books and magazines and researched the styles of other countries “for inspiration and sparks but always stayed true to himself”, as Heinrich explained. Sections of the exhibit are devoted to those inspired fashions from places like Russia, China and Morocco (where he did travel to and had a home). There is a room saluting the famous women who have been his clients including the lovely Catherine Deneuve. There is also an interesting replica of Saint Laurent’s studio.
Near the end of the exhibit, visitors walk through a gallery of small color swatches attached to pieces of notepaper. These were Saint Laurent’s snippets of color to try out that were only recently found in a file and have never been exhibited before their Denver appearance.
Round the corner of this room and you’ll be wowed. In the large, angular room, to the right are three
lovely chandeliers illuminating mannequins staged to be mingling in their evening gowns. As with the rest of the exhibit, it is interesting to see how few dresses really look dated. Although decades old, many are totally au courant. In the left corner of this room are two walls stacked with mannequins perched on ledges wearing the various versions of “le smoking”, the tuxedos Yves Saint Laurent was perhaps most famous for – putting women in pants for dressy events? Quel horreur! My only objection was that the black tuxedos against a black wall made it difficult to focus on. I would have preferred a charcoal grey wall for some visual contrast. However, they did not ask me! This room is a stunning end to this exhibit but fear not, the fun isn’t over.
On the main floor of the museum is the room of ever-changing-fun-and-creativity. This time, it is set up as the Fashion Studio where people of all ages can try their hand at sketching designs, draping fabrics, trying on clothing and even strutting down a runway. Every weekend, a real, live fashion designer will be available to talk about what fashion design is really like.
Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective is a timed, ticketed event, however you can visit the Fashion Studio with general admission, without purchasing tickets to the exhibit. But why would you want to do that? It’s so worth it.
|General Public||Adult||$ 22.00|
|Youth (6-17)||$ 14.00|
|Senior (65+) /Student||$ 18.00|
|Youth (6-17)||$ 6.00|
I suggest becoming a member for the discount and because the Denver Art Museum is such a wonderful place to go, all year round.