Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) Retrospective at the Petit Palais Paris

For such a painfully shy man, Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) fooled us all with his brilliant vision of how to dress women.

YSL by Andy Warhol 1974

Yves Saint Laurent by Andy Warhol - 1974

1 – 1966 – The first ever tuxedo suit for women. Black grain de poudre and satin silk dinner suit pants, white organdie blouse – photo © Alexandre Guirkinger
2 – 1967 – The first official pantsuit for women. Black and white striped woolen gabardine pantsuit, white cotton shirt, black silk tie – photo © Alexandre Guirkinger
3 – 1968 – The Safari look. Day outfit, beige cotton gabardine safari jacket, silver metal rings belt, black cotton gabardine Bermuda, collection Saint Laurent Rive Gauche – Veruschka wearing YSL Saharienne photo © Ruffo Rubartelli 1968


His sensitive perception of women and their causes helped us advance forward in what was once a male dominated world. What causes? Birth control, voting, ownership of property, wearing slacks and career advancement to name a few. Basically, what women today take for granted was fought long and hard by others. For approximately five months, the Parisian Museum Le Petit Palais hosted an integral retrospective of YSL. After a 3 hour wait, I walked into an exhibition that completely caught me off guard by its magnitude and its beauty. Using a very YSL color palette, the rooms coherently went from theme to theme such as the period of inspirations from artists of our time: Pop art, Cubism, Bambara art to wardrobes from around the world: Asia, Spain, Russia, Africa, etc.

Petit Palais, Paris © Isa Maisa

The Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective Exhibition decor was bold, graphic and impressive, beginning with a walk through a gallery hallway of his tailored pieces. Noticing ceiling to floor sketches throughout the rooms of Mr. Saint Laurent added great visual effects. Yet certain rooms were hands down mesmerizing:

Petit Palais, Paris © Isa Maisa

– The Haute Couture room was designed as an homage to Charles Frederick Worth who was the founding father when he designed his clothing which he then sold to his private clients. This room screamed chic with its beautiful gowns, the daring color and the red carpet placement of the pieces all enveloped in hot pink hue room printed photograph of the 1900’s portraying a waltzing couple.

Petit Palais, Paris © Isa Maisa

– The small hallway of his last collection before he retired startled me by its elegance. This room could easily be featured in a great magazine as The World of Interiors. A mosaic tiled effect was created by using pages of fabric swatches he once used in his previous collections pasted against a black wall. It is still perfectly imprinted in my mind.

Petit Palais, Paris © Isa Maisa

VOGUE Paris, November 1st, 1971 showing the scandalous advertising photo by Jean-Loup Sieff of YSL naked except for his glasses.

Yves Saint Laurent - Photo © The Estate of Jean-Loup Sieff 1971

The launching of his cologne for men, Pour Homme was a tremendous success. What was a shock turned out to be a masterpiece because the ad was immediately picked up globally, for FREE, in countless other VOGUE magazines. I personally loved YSL during this era because he was so stunning with his Christ-like appearance while at the same time being sensual with his lean and lanky frame.


On a final note which no one seemed to notice but me. I saw at least a dozen pairs that could be easily worn today. Shoes that were designed 40 years ago, mind you. If I had a pair, I believe I would be stopped in the streets of Paris to be asked where I had bought them. Damn, I wish I had a few…

For further info: YSL Retrospective, Le Petit Palais,

On January 7th 2002, Yves Saint Laurent decides to bring his career to an end. On January 22nd a retrospective show of 40 years of creation is held at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.