The Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent, which opens today, is the culmination of forty years of creation. In 1962, Yves Saint Laurent opened his couture house at 30bis rue Spontini. The rest is history: Yves Saint Laurent’s unending success, his influence on fashion the world over; the revolutionary idea of creating a ready-to-wear line that for the first time in history was designed by a major couturier. It was during those twelve years in rue Spontini that Yves forged, developed and imposed his inimitable style. If Chanel gave women their freedom, it was Saint Laurent who empowered them.
By using codes hitherto deemed masculine, he was able to give women a feeling of security and audacity, yet with a flair that always retained their femininity. His creations are intrinsic to the history of the 20th century.
They have accompanied the emancipation of women in every sphere, be it private, social, or political. The pants suit, the smoking, the caban, the safari suit, the trench coat… each is engraved in our collective memory and all are an integral part of every woman’s wardrobe.
In 1974, we moved to 5 Avenue Marceau where, for the next 30 years, Yves Saint Laurent would accomplish what have incontestably been the most important works of fashion of our era.
On January 7th 2002, Yves Saint Laurent announced at a press conference that he was closing the couture house and retiring. On January 22nd an immense fashion show-retrospective took place at the Centre Pompidou in Paris triumphantly crowning the couturier’s achievement. The world’s press paid glowing tributes to him and his extraordinary career.
Since the very first day, we have taken great care to conserve the most important models of the collection together with all the drawings and sketches. At the present time, the Foundation possesses some 5 000 garments and over 15 000 accessories, drawings, paper patterns and miscellaneous objects.
Each piece is stored on our premises in an environment that is the envy of all - boasting air conditioning, humidification, and the use of anti-acid paper.
The archive also contains scanned copies of a large number of press articles and reports, videos of collections, and a variety of interviews from the world over.
We also wished to open our exhibition galleries. Over 200 m2 of floor space have been fitted out for this purpose. Here again, the strictest museum conditions have been res¬pected. On the advice of renowned specialists, the galleries have been equipped with state-of-the-art lighting, video and audio systems.
The first exhibition is naturally devoted to Yves Saint Laurent.
For it, we have chosen to highlight his relationship with art. The 45 pieces on display recount the fascinating dialogue Saint Laurent maintains with the painters whom he admires.
However, it is not our intention to devote these galleries entirely to Yves Saint Laurent or fashion. We will also be organising exhibitions of paintings, photographs, and drawings.
The Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent Foundation received state recognition on December 5th 2002.
It is our wish that the numerous paintings, furniture and objets d’art that Yves Saint Laurent and I have personally collected over the years will one day pass to the Foundation. The circle will have been completed.
Forty years of passion will be united once again. A passion for art, a passion for fashion. But let us not be mistaken. I have always been wary of nostalgia and living in the past. I have always maintained that one must transform memories into a project, and that is exactly what we have done with this Foundation. And so continues an adventure begun a long time ago, before we knew what destiny held in store for us.