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Yves Saint Laurent: A Legacy of Good Taste

Heike Söns


Yves Saint Laurent’s personal archives in digital format at the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation.


Yves Saint Laurent left behind an unmatched legacy. Revered and admired by the fashion elite and respected by his peers and colleagues, his enduring creations and the refinement of his designs, have influenced the way women have dressed for decades.

Five years after his death, Yves Saint Laurent continues to be as relevant as ever, and there is no doubt that his achievements in fashion deserve high praise and conservation. And who could be better to take over this task than his lifelong partner, Pierre Bergé, who is leading a loving project to preserve the irreplaceable legacy of the great couturier.

Yves Saint Laurent Archives

The Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, in collaboration with France’s Ministry of Culture, have joined forces to recover, digitize and make available to the public a spectacular collection, which includes the most significant items from Saint Laurent’s personal archives.

The first project from the fashionable enterprise was Paper Dolls, an excellent online exhibition, featuring a collection of paper dresses. This unusual project includes a total of 11 dolls, 443 garments and 105 accessories. Each of these creations was manufactured by a young Yves Saint Laurent who, with materials as simple as paper, ink, gouache and scissors, was able to imagine sublime garments. The model-dolls were carefully chosen, and cut by Saint Laurent, from his mother´s fashion magazines, which included Vogue, Paris Match and Jardin des Modes.

Yves Saint Laurent Archives

In those days, Saint Laurent organized fashion shows in which he paid tribute to fashion and beauty icons such as Bucol, Elizabeth Arden, Perugia and Abrahams, among many others. During these times, the future designer received, on two occasions, awards from the International Wool Secretariat. Saint Laurent traveled to Paris with his mother in the winter of 1953 to receive the prize, where he met Michel de Brunhoff, director French Vogue.

Brunhoff, who was known a keen ability to discover new talent, was quite impressed with the sketches of the young Saint Laurent and, shortly thereafter, showed them to Christian Dior, who immediately hired YSL to work in his atelier.

Saint Laurent‘s passion would no longer be limited to beautiful paper dolls, allowing him to experiment and design the extraordinary pieces that, even today, remain a symbol avant-garde fashion.

The Paper Dolls online installation shows how Saint Laurent‘s designs have influenced the way we experience fashion while highlighting the author’s brilliant creations. “He was a visionary,” says Bergé. “His work can be seen in the street, everywhere. Unfortunately, it is not often displayed in fashion collections “.  ■


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