This last Sunday was thrilling and it wasn't thanks to the spirit of Halloween. A brand new museum dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent opened on October 1st. It's housed in the couturier's official design studio at 5 Avenue Marceau and exhibits the brand's most iconic looks.
The museum offered free entrance on its first day. I arrived before opening time and understandably, the queues were already winding up multiple streets! The one-hour wait was antagonizing - could you believe the icons that had walked those steps! More importantly, A-list guests like François-Henri Pinault, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Catherine Deneuve, Betty Catroux, Kenzo Takada, Salma Hayek, Bianca Jagger were there just 2 days prior for the official inauguration of the venue!
Your visit begins at the reception area which displays Saint Laurent's photos by photographers Irving Penn and Jeanloup Sieff, as well as Andy Warhol's famous pop-art portraits. Heavy deep green curtains framing French windows and crystal chandeliers compliment the rooms. It's here that you can take a seat to enjoy a 15-minute documentary that explores the legend's career.
The exhibition commences at that same floor with a section that showcases intricately-crafted jackets with sequins, pearls and rhinestones. The first room features androgynous designs like the Saharienne jacket and Le Smoking - the iconic first female tuxedo. As you go further, you pass by Saint Laurent's sketches, notes and jewelry, screens that display his interviews and photos of his muses and models.
Parts of his Mondrian collection, the infamous black crèpe cocktail dress with nude lace back and other velvet and silk evening gowns are also preserved here. Before reaching the gift shop, you get the chance to pass through the couturier's iconic studio. As an avid moviegoer, I'd have flashbacks of the documentaries "Yves Saint Laurent: 5 avenue Marceau 75116 Paris" and "L'Amour Fou", which had been filmed here. Honestly, it's like entering a temple!
The museum currently exhibits Saint Laurent's early collections. They will be found here until September 9, 2018, when more recent collections will be presented to the public. Part of his works will be on display in a second museum located in Marrakesh set to open on October 19. Make sure to check out YSL's designs made for the brand of Dior at the temporary exhibition of Christian Dior, Couturier du rêve, in Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs.
So, my morning was out of this world - I'd walked on holy ground and I was grateful for this rare chance! I took a stroll along Avenue Marceau (and had the most delicious bagel at the quaint Bagelstein). Eventually, I reached the cloudy Châmps Élysées, which was accessible only to pedestrians, as it happens the first Sundays of every month.
That Sunday, however, there was this unusual commotion of trucks and carpenters carrying lights and security guards putting up barriers around what seemed to be a concert stage right before l'Arc de Triomphe. A policeman calmly declared that l'Oréal was there for the Fashion Week. Surely, the event had ended and the cars were there to lug off the catwalk. Or had it?
It appeared that the défilé was to begin 2 hours later and I could queue in order to get "inside" and stand right by the side of the catwalk. Naturally, I didn't mind the rain and the considerable amount of people that were pushing and pulling from all sides. After all, it would be almost like a complete front row experience!
The wait was totally worth it! And it included a peek into the rehearsal. Helen Mirren and Jane Fonda walked the catwalk - and looked in our direction for 2 seconds (the crowds have been blessed). Naomi Campbell was in the audience, so we were breathing the same air for an hour. Legends only! I couldn't be more thankful - my month has been made!