Yesterday, I left my house at 7 a.m. to head down to Richmond, Va. I was on my way to see the much-heralded Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. I have been avoiding spoilers on social media for months, and was excited to be able to carve out time to see the exhibit, which features 100 examples of his haute couture and ready-to-wear garments—some never shown publicly before. I was also excited to meet up with Sydney Lester of Chic Stripes, who is based in Richmond. No better way to experience fashion than to geek out with a fellow personal stylist!
I cued up my podcasts and geared up for the two-hour drive. I arrived an hour early so got to grab coffee and talk shop with Sydney. Finally, though, it was time for us to head in.
Upon entering one of the first halls, I quite literally got chills. On one side of the long room was a 40-years-strong row of design sketches and fabric swatches, documenting every Saint Laurent haute couture show. On the other side was a row of his iconic designs on white mannequins. We spent over an hour in that first room, pouring over his sketches. It is rare to get a glimpse of that creative process. The exhibit walked us through his formative years at House of Dior and into the ’60s when he turned women’s strict gender dress codes on its head with tuxedos, safari jackets, and yes, pant suits.
We also were treated to a young Saint Laurent and his “Paper Doll Couture House,” which he created as a teenager. This had not been shown in the United States before.
Later in the exhibit, we explored more of the painstaking craftsmanship that goes into couture garments, which never fails to amaze me. A room of muslins, the hand-sewn forms ateliers use to create a first draft of couture garments, offer a unique look into the various stages of production of such a garment.
If you don’t know much about YSL, you don’t have to. So much of what he designed decades ago resonates today. His ready-to-wear line changed the face of fashion. He introduced us to “modular fashion,” which is the cornerstone of what we do everyday with our clients — showing versatility, mixing and matching, and creating your own personal style.