Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris: Behind the Scenes of Haute Couture And Silk Manufacturing

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Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris: Behind the Scenes of Haute Couture And Silk Manufacturing
Paris boasts some exceptional museums dedicated to fashion, as befits the capitale de la mode. Among them, Musée Saint Laurent stands out, because it is a testament to the determination of a couturier who saved samples of all his couture creations from the very first collection he launched under his name, in 1962, at a time when the notion of heritage for fashion houses was still unheard of. For the second half of 2021, the museum presents an exhibition dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent’s close collaboration with the famed silk manufacturers of Lyon. The collection covers the entire career span of the designer (C) Sarah Bartesaghi Truong The museum’s collections, normally rotating once a year, cover the late creative’s entire career, until his retirement from Haute Couture in 2002, and this exhibition draws on its richness to display at the same time the evolution of his style, but also the recurrent choices of fabrics that he favored particularly. It is the case of the rich jewel tones of brocade, or the lightness of silk muslin. The collection of swatches in particular reads like a map of the inimitable YSL style, a heady mix of color, texture and opulence. The development of silk manufacturing in Lyon dates back to the reign of François I, in the 16th century. Until then, silk textiles had been imported from Italy, but then the exponential increase in demand from the aristocracy became an unbearable drain on the coffers of France. That is when the king asked two Italian merchants established in the city to set up some weaving mills, and in 1540 the city of Lyon was granted an exclusive royal patent to produce silk. YSL smoothing the fabric on a model (C) Sarah Bartesaghi Truong By the 20th century, overall demand for silk had shrunk, as cheaper, synthetic textiles had replaced it on the interior decoration market. However, for the fashion industry, and haute couture in particular, thankfully the noblest of natural fibers remained the preferred choice, notably for the most sophisticated occasion wear. Brocade, damask, lampas: these complex weaves had no secrets for the storied manufacturers of Lyon, and the city secured its status of European capital of silk weaving. YSL Paper dolls (C) Sarah Bartesaghi Truong
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Lead photo credit : Vintage photograph of YSL draping fabric on a model (C) Sarah Bartesaghi Truong

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Sarah Bartesaghi Truong has lived, studied and worked in Milan, Paris and London. Her lifelong passion for art in all its forms and her entrepreneurial dreams were the catalyst for a career change: she left the world of investment banking to go back to school, at the Sotheby’s Institute of London. Ten years ago, she moved back to Paris, the ideal location for an art-lover. As an Italian in Paris, she decided she would keep playing the tourist in her adoptive home town, always on the lookout for the many wonders the French capital has to offer to the curious explorer. VeniVidiParis, the company she founded, plans curated itineraries in the French capital and its vicinity for travellers wishing to discover the city’s vibrant art scene, but not only. Take a look at her recent discoveries on her Instagram feed, @venividiparis, or contact her at [email protected] for help planning your next Parisian vacation.