Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

A Life of Fashion: Sam Exhibit Showcases Yves Saint Laurent


With the release of their newest exhibit “Yves Saint Laurent: The perfection of Style”, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) welcomes all as they open their doors and invite the public to experience the world of fashion.


Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum.

Entering the dimly lit entrance of the Saint Laurent exhibit, viewers walk into the illustrious career and life of one of the fashion world’s most well-known and respected designers. This exhibit features garments and accessories from the renowned fashion designer’s 44-year-long career.

Moving into the next room, visitors enter a large space that features bright lights and a mock-runway stage with mannequins wearing some of Saint Laurent’s most famous pieces. On the outskirts of this runway, the exhibit allows viewers to see pictures, sketches, and documents of the designer’s most early works preserved in glass cases. On the wall surrounding the room, visitors can see frames which display over hundreds of sketches and fabric samples of the outfits that Saint Laurent once produced.

“I like that it was chronological,” one visitor, who asked to remain anonymous, stated. “I was amazed at how well archived everything was. Everything was in its place. The exhibit didn’t take away from the artistic side of things.”

Each room of the exhibit takes visitors into different eras of the fashion designer’s career. One part of the exhibit displays Saint Laurent’s take on gender roles in which he questions the societal norm. In working to bend these norms, he created the first version of a female tuxedo in the mid- 1960s. Another room portrays the pop art era from the mid to late 1960s. Throughout this room, viewers can see dresses of all sorts of style, ranging from simplistic design to those with abstract prints and bright bold colors. Many unpublished documents, photographs, and videos depicting his life beyond the fashion world are also on display.

The “Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style” exhibit at the SAM, tells the story of Yves Saint Laurent, displaying his life before and during his career within the fashion industry. Saint Laurent spent his early years creating paper dolls with his designs on them, and as a young adult, Saint Laurent began working as an assistant for French designer Christian Dior’s. This would be a paramount point in his life, being that he would be the successor following Dior’s death. Saint Laurent, though immersed in the fashion world, was drafted into the French Army at age 24. Shortly after, he was diagnosed with mental health problems which lead to his discharge from service. On June 1, 2008 Saint Laurent passed away from brain cancer at the age of 71.

For sophomore journalism major Kianna Cooley, this exhibit sparked her love for fashion. Being able to see firsthand the pieces of one of her favorite designers was inspiring.

“I loved the pop art section. It was really cool to see the vivid dresses in person. I had seen some in pictures but I never knew the material was thick wool,” Cooley said.

Nearing the end of the exhibit, visitors will notice that the dresses are arranged by color. Among these are floor length gowns and evening dresses in multiple different shades. Saint Laurent’s elegant style is the focal point in the last section of the exhibit.

Before returning to the cold, rainy Seattle bustle, visitors pause to admire the designer’s collection of accessories. Upon entering this room, visitors are surrounded by a circular case that display his jewelry. Pieces include earrings, necklaces, and bracelets of all different shapes and colors.

In response to which room was most popular, a security worker remarked, “The jewelry room…I notice that people stay in this room the longest because they have a lot of different things to look at. Everything is very detailed.”

Another worker stated, “A lot of people were looking at the sketches and fabric swatches…and then the case of the accessories; the jewelry… that seemed to draw a lot of people in.” When asked how this exhibit compared to the popularity of past exhibits she answered, “The museum planned for it to be busy, they did a lot of promotion. The expectation is that it is supposed to be very busy… and it’s been pretty busy for just being opening week.”

The Yves Saint Laurent exhibit opened on Oct. 11, 2016 and will be on view until Jan. 8, 2017. Offering a behind the scene view of the French fashion designer’s life, this exhibit is a must see. With a lifetime of work available for all to see, people can truly grasp a sense of what Saint Laurent’s life was before and during his career.

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