Sunday, December 4, 2016

YSL at SAM volume 2

I had to go back, if anything to get a better sense of the whole exhibition, not just the little bit I obsessed over

And because I can

Seattle Public Library has a reciprocal deal with a variety of museums and other institutions in town (walking tours and theater tickets show up from time to time), and a limited number of free admission tickets are available each day; in addition, you are limited to the number of visits you get in a 30 day window. And some are really hard to get, like SAM and MoPop (the institution formerly known as EMP: the Experience Music Project). But persistence pays.

Thanks Library! I love you!

There will be a lot of links in this show. I am not an historian by trade, I am not thorough, but I do like to be correct. When in doubt, I'm sending you to people who have more information on this matter. And you can click on the photos to make them bigger.

What I do know is museums.

SAM videos about exhibition

This is a big show, a great 'get' for SAM, with a lot of rooms and dresses and all those sketches and swatch sheets. I've had some time to think about what is in this show you haven't seen elsewhere.

The show opens, as does his career, with the paper dolls.

Teenaged YSL did at least two paper doll 'couture' shows for his sisters, with his designs drawn over magazine photographs of  working models.
There's much good information and more links at Irenebrination on this and much more at the Foundation YSL 

The cover

The program

SAM wall card

The dolls and dresses are laid out on a long counter

They are collaged from magazine photos and oak tag and construction paper. 

At the end, you can move  copies of the dresses over a model to see how they fit. Of course they fit perfectly. I guess they  felt they needed to prove this.

Given the years of materials here, there is something pretty swell about being able to see how a piece comes together. Like the velvet wedding coat from 1970.

We get to see the swatch page for the coat on the wall.

And in the central display, the coat and turban.

The black panel cuts off a view of the work on the back.

The work is a combination of applique and insertion. Satin over velvet.

In comparison, the knit dresses are pieced (some seam allowances are slightly visible through the fabric) perfectly. Not a pucker or a missing stitch (unlike the Mondrian, which I clucked over previously). Since they are all from heavy wool jersey,  I think it might just be an issue of storage.
In couture, the work is always going to be impeccable, but wool is easier to steam into submission than silk.

In the 'muslin/toile/hat' room, the showroom details caught my eye. The Stockmen (the customized dressforms for repeat customers) are paraded on one of the walls.

The pencil drawn topstitching, the attached muslin buttons

a 'stockman' for choreographer Roland Petit's wife, dancer Zizi Jeanmaire (YSL did costumes for Petit)

On this A/W 1981 "Matisse" dress, the embroideries are shown as painted paper, sewn onto the bodice

the toile belt is white suede, not paper

The rest of the exhibit is walls of swatches and rooms of notable dresses

You really can make these bigger if you want, or just slide by them.

1983 A/W, this one for Nan Kemper, from the collection of Hamish Bowles. Go look them up.

Another for Nan 1985 on the left. I love the red gathers on the back of the dress on the right.

The dress on the right was made for the  Proust Ball, thrown in honor of the 100th anniversary of Marcel Proust’s birth in 1971; he did several dresses for that, this is the dress he made for Marie-Helene de Rothschild, who produced the event. 

Of course it ends with the wedding dress. 

This is from the collection from 1995 A/W, a stripped down panniered dress that is more of a callback to the Dior house in the 50s than the style originated in Spanish court dress of the 17th century, familiar in portraits by Velázquez (that last bit from Wikipedia). There are drawings aping Velazquez in another part of the exhibit, but by this time, I'm just too tired to go back and doublecheck the collection dates.
No, ends with the gift shop.
No, this is not the whole shop, just the part I care about. Whose blog is this, anyway?
The silver yardage belongs to the buyer for the shop, and she and I have a deal over this bolt to make when this exhibit comes down.
No, it really ends (or begins) in the lobby with these 

Please don't forget to visit the online archives. They really are splendid.
Foundation YSL
and the 1998 World Cup greatest hits fashion show


  1. Thanks for this great overview--and links. I haven't seen the exhibit yet but did rent two YSL documentaries from Scarecrow in preparation.

    1. Yay Scarecrow! Show runs until January, and it's worth pursuing those free tickets through the SPL.

  2. Stephanie - you did the exhibition proud. What wonderful work. I love that they kept everything, especially the fabric swatches. Don't they look marvellous, categorised by colour.

    1. Thanks. If I could have crawled in your handbag for the Versace lecture at the V&A....oh my gosh!

  3. Thanks for this post! I had no idea he used paper dolls for designing -- well of course he did, he was a child. Wishing I was in Seattle right now.

    1. He was 16 years old. And thanks. I assume this will tour; it's too well-built not to.


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