Thursday, March 25, 2010


I taught a speech class to undergrads when I was a graduate student. One of my students was an adorable 16-year old Swiss kid named Yves. How he managed to land himself in the middle of Midwestern cornfields for university study alludes me. Still, despite his precociousness, the other students looked out for Yves. I had a lot of group work in the class and I was touched when I saw a student, a sporty baseball player who let's face it, probably didn't get into the school based upon his academic merit, beckon Yves into his group, saying, "Yo, Eaves, come on. Join us."

I was reminded of how that baseball player pronounced his name whenever I contemplated choosing the name Yves for my boy. So I went with "Roman" instead, but still maintained a quiet soft spot for the name, owing to fashion designer and legend Yves Saint Laurent. Aka YSL.

Most recently, I had the good fortune of seeing the YSL Retrospective at the
Petit Palais. Friend Gwen came to celebrate her birthday, and my prezzie to her was a pair of tickets to the show. We gloated when we skipped ahead of the 150+ person line with our advanced-sale tickets. In sum, the show was an incredible tour de force, containing over 300 pieces, plus a great collection of jewelry, photography, and video. It was capped with a magnificent display of one his most celebrated creations: the black tuxedo for women, aka Le Smoking. The show included his first from 1966, as well as a three levels of successive rifts on the original. (I should think that HRC (Hillary Rodham Clinton) owes a debt of gratitude to YSL for the woman's power pantsuit.) The blog If It's Hip, It's Here provides a great overview of the show. Here's Gwen in front of the show's banner:

I'm not saying I adore all of his work, some of his least appealing pieces (to me) are his most popular. But you've got to admire the person, the designer, the talent. He was a creative genius who lead the House of Dior when he was only 21, empowered women through his designs, and was the first designer to use black models. He had a loyal following and many celebrated relationships, most notably with another of my girl-crushes, Catherine Deneuve, who first show-cased his work in one of my favorite Frenchie films Belle de Jour. (I once went wrongly overdressed to a pimps and hos party in Brooklyn and when asked what kind of hooker I "was supposed to be," I jokingly and presumptuously answered, "Belle de Jour." He laughed.)

Not for nothing that I encouraged Franck to buy YSL "inspired" glasses when he was due for an upgrade:

Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008 leaving a mega-load of work (and art) behind. His ashes are spread in Marrakesh, a city I just visited for the first time, where he had a second home and would take to for
quinze jours for inspiration. I was laid up in my room at the rhiad with a stomach bug, but travel buddies Gwen and Leigh visited the Jardin de Yves Saint Laurent and his memorial for me and snapped these great photos below.

Photo of Yves Saint Laurent courtesy of Fondation Pierre Bergé

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