Q&A with Pierre Bergé at Yves Saint-Laurent: Style Is Eternal

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Set in a village of 5,000 people in the middle of Durham countryside is a building like nothing in the area. The French chateau that is Bowes Museum is playing host to their biggest exhibition to date: Yves Saint-Laurent: Style Is Eternal.

Fashion North had the pleasure of being part of a question and answer press event with Adrian Jenkins, museum director, Joanna Hashagan, keeper of fashion and textiles at the museum, and Pierre Bergé, founder and president of the Pierre Bergé Foundation safeguarding the YSL legacy.

The exhibition has been two years in the making; working in close partnership with the Pierre Berge Foundation curating the best pieces from Saint-Laurent’s illustrious career.

The museum director, Adrian Jenkins, said since the release of the news of the exhibition back in January, it had come under “great speculation from the nations press due to its secluded location, and not being in the nation’s capital.” However, once you step through the revolving wooden doors into the grand reception with its period paintings and decor, it becomes understandable as to why it was chosen.

The exhibition is over three galleries on the first floor of the château and contains five themes including: YSL’s passion for art and transparency, something that shocked the 1960s audience.

The retrospective houses some of Saint-Laurent’s most iconic pieces including his 1980s lilac embroidered jackets, which drew inspiration from Vincent Van Gogh, and took over 670 hours to create due to the intense detail on each individual piece. Others include homage to Dutch painter Mondrian and Pablo Picasso.

The Museum is also proud to stage YSL’s most recognisable creation, Le Smoking tuxedo which debuted in 1967 to a mixed reception – something Pierre says Saint-Laurent was proud to “take the power from the gentlemen’s shoulder and put them on to the ladies”.

It’s not just clothes that are on display but accessories and video screenings are used to show runways produced in the YSL house. One section Joanna Hashagan is particularly proud of and says “would be of great interest to fashion students particularly” is seeing the collection boards created for each individual garment in the seasonal presentations. Something that has never been seen in a retrospective to the designer.

To see work by the “talented, bright and fascinating” designer as described by Pierre, and to be part of the Bowes Museum history. Visit the exhibition from July 11 – October 25.

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