YSL: From Film to Comic Strip

by Cynthia Sin-Yi Cheng
May 12, 2010

Yves Saint Lauren Collection Autumn/Winter 1966/1967

Petit Palais
Ave Winston-Churchill
75008 Paris
March 11 – August 29, 2010

Lately, I’ve become obsessed with fashion icons as I’ve caught a documentary here and a retrospective there. It all started with the documentary The September Issue. I was fascinated by Anna Wintour’s work style and decisiveness. Then I happened to catch Lagerfeld Confidential on an Air France flight, where I was so taken by Lagerfeld’s clarity on his need for solitude in order to rejuvenate his creative juices. To top it off, on the last day of my recent Parisian trip, the Yves Saint Laurent show was on my must-see list.

I had limited time that day, so I zipped through the show, focusing only on points of interest. Here were the highlights for me:

Movie Costumes: Belle de jour by Luis Bunuel
A small room is devoted exclusively to Catherine Deneuve’s handsome wardrobe in Luis Bunuel’s Belle de jour (1967). Scenes from the film as well as an interview with Deneuve, in which she talks about feeling free in YSL’s intimidating power outfits, play on a small screen. This film marks the beginning of Deneuve’s role as YSL’s muse.

Comic Strip: La Vilaine Lulu
In the same year as Bunuel’s film, YSL designed and wrote a comic strip called La Vilaine Lulu (Lulu the Villain), a sassy and rather sexual book of illustrations definitely not intended for kids. This description from the exhibit sums up the book’s protagonist perfectly: “a whimsical, hard-headed, narcissistic, and mean little girl. She always has it her way…”

Le Smoking: Liberating & Empowering Women
YSL created the women’s power suit: Le smoking. Launched in 1966, in total he created 236 variations on it. Towards the end of the exhibit, les smokings from dress form to jumpsuits and coats line the wall. I was amazed at how YSL captured the versatility in this one form whether it’s elegant and free flowing in silk or stern and power-driven in a coat.

As Lagerfeld feels he needs quiet time to fuel his creativity, I felt entirely inspired leaving the YSL show. If you are in Paris before September, don’t miss it.

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