5 Things To Swoon Over At The UK’s First Yves Saint Laurent Exhibition

The Bowes Museum in County Durham will play host to the UK's first ever Yves Saint Laurent exhibition

From the Mondrian dresses to the original Le Smoking suit, the UK’s first ever exhibition on designer Yves Saint Laurent opens in County Durham this week and it features over 50 of iconic designer’s best-known creations.

The Bowes Museum (chosen over any of the bigger London museums because of it’s perfect chateau vibes) have worked with the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent to curate ‘Style Is Eternal’, showcasing pieces from the late designer’s tenure as creative director of Christian Dior, as well as styles from his own label.

The man who invented most of our favourite ready-to-wear staples (the trench coat, women’s tailoring and the jumpsuit, to name but a few) has a rich archive of work to be mined for the display. Here’s what we think everyone needs to see at this exhibition…

The Russian Collection
Inspired by the costume designs for Sergei Diaghilev’s early 20th-century Ballets Russes, Yves Saint Laurent’s 1976 ‘Russian’ collection was at the time tipped as one of the greatest fashion collections ever. Watch the incredible archive footage here.

The Mondrian Dresses
Fashion and art collided literally for the first time in 1965 when Yves Saint Laurent showed a collection of six cocktail mini dresses to his haute couture audience. There’s sooo much to say if you go fashion forensic on this one – note the simple lines of both the dress and the artwork, the block colouring, the idea that the body can be a canvas… Let us count the ways.

The First ‘Le Smoking’ Trouser Suit
Ahh Le Smoking! One of Yves Saint Laurent’s greatest legacies will forever be the moment he decided to cut men’s tailoring for a woman’s body in 1966. How did no one ever think of it before? 

The Safari Jacket
The first designer to turn utility wear into catwalk creations, Yves Saint Laurent debuted his safari jacket in 1968, initially as a one-off piece worn by model of the moment Veruschka. How many copycat khakis have you seen since? Every single one was inspired by this image.

The Jumpsuit
In 1968, Saint Laurent even gave us the fashion-forward jumpsuit. These days, there’s an all-in-one out there for every occasion (we love our snuggly onesies as much as our sharp cocktail tailoring) proving the designer’s ability to invent future wardrobe staples with limitless staying power. Style is eternal and, to Mr Saint Laurent, we are eternally grateful.

Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal, runs from July 11th to October 25th 2015 at The Bowes Museum in County Durham. Visit www.thebowesmuseum.org.uk.

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