Yves Saint Laurent 'Dreams of the Orient'
Held at the legendary premise of his former haute couture house, Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris showcases the first temporary thematic exhibition since its opening in 2017. 'Dreams of the Orient' is comprised of approximately fifty haute couture designs, inspired by China, Japan and India. The exhibition transports the visitor to the enchanted east with a blend of opulent garments, fragrances and Asian artwork borrowed from the Musée National des Arts Asiatiques - Guimet and private collectors.
'Dreams of the Orient' begins with pieces influenced by Imperial China. In 1977, after several lavish collections inspired by Spanish matadors and Bellets Russes, Yves Saint Laurent debuted the critically acclaimed 'Les Chinoises' collection; his imagination fed by Chinese folklore. This body of work simultaneously launched with the house’s iconic perfume: Opium.
Famously proclaiming "I have been to every country in my dreams", Laurent only visited Japan out of the three countries represented in this presentation; kimonos of Kyoto courtesans and Kabuki theater costumes embody his interpretation of the essence of Japan.
Upstairs in the India section, Laurent repurposes the attire of powerful men such as Mughal prince robes and turbans adorned with a sarpech jewel, and uses female mannequins - a rebellious twist on traditional Indian apparel.
A dreamed vision, Laurent constructed these masterpieces after studying pieces of art, craftsmanship, local traditions and folklore from the regions he was fascinated by. Asia is a recurring theme throughout his work; his creations a reinterpretation of established techniques and fabrics. Aurélie Samuel, the curator of the exhibit explains “he didn’t want to copy…he wanted to find the spirit of the culture and it’s a legacy and a tribute to these cultures.”