Yves Saint Laurent in Paris
Posted on April 13th, 2022
It’s not just the blossom that draws me back to Paris, but also the colour and beauty of Yves Saint Laurent. This iconic haute couture house is staging the biggest exhibition in the history of Yves Saint Laurent and shouldn’t be missed.
Yves Saint Laurent aux Musées has collaborated with six museums to showcase his work in the places that inspired him. It is the 60th anniversary of YSL’s first collection under his own name. Each museum focuses on a different element or collection from his career.
24 hours in Paris with Yves Saint Laurent
We took an early morning Eurostar, arriving in Paris at 11.30am. After a quick drop at the hotel, we headed off for a bite to eat. The purpose of our trip was to see as much of the Yves Saint Laurent aux Musées exhibition as possible.
The sun was shining and off we went. It was difficult not to get distracted by the beauty of everything else in these incredible buildings, which took an enormous amount of discipline.
Atelier of Yves Saint Laurent
Begin at the Atelier of Yves Saint Laurent in Avenue Marceau. Walk around the space where the great designer worked and see his drawings, photography and the mannequins.
Make time to watch the videos as YSL talks about his collections. It is fascinating and the best place to begin. This is the desk where Yves Saint Laurent worked at the Atelier in Avenue Morceau.
Museum of Modern Art
We then walked to the Museum of Modern Art, the first of the six museums showing his designs in the settings that inspired him.
The Dufy Gallery was quite breathtaking. As an example of what inspired him, it was perfect. We then wandered around the museum to see his other designs in the various galleries.
Looking at the details of his work close up against the backdrop of artist that inspired him is extraordinary.
Museum detour | The Petit Palais
Because we were so close, it was suggested that we should visit the Petit Palais. A stunning building with spectacular ceilings, floors and a tropical garden. It was definitely worth it.
The amazing ceilings and tiled floors are details you don’t expect. The beauty slows you down and time stands still.
Then make your way to Concorde and take the metro to Saint-Paul. The Picasso Museum is a short walk away.
The Picasso Museum
Picasso provided huge inspiration and YSL dedicated an entire collection to him. The exhibits include a jacket displayed side-by-side with a portrait which is stunning. YSL’s creations are certainly works of art themselves.
At 5pm we didn’t have enough time for another museum, so having walked over 20,000 steps we wandered over to St Germain for a petite pression.
Yves Saint Laurent at The Louvre
The following day we were up and ready to head over to The Louvre for our 9am entry. Most museums don’t open until 9.30 or 10am, so it is a good one to start with. I wasn’t prepared for the splendour and opulence of this extraordinary museum.
A quick viewing of the Mona Lisa without the long queue was absolutely worth it, before losing ourselves back on the YLS trail.
After a leisurely wander through some of the galleries that were on our hit list, we headed for the YSL collection in the splendid Gallerie d’Apollon which is reminiscent of Versailles.
Here you will find YSL’s most spectacular jackets embroidered with gold and studded with crystals, surrounded by the French crown jewels. You will see the connection.
After the Louvre, we crossed over the Seine to the Musée D’Orsay, a must for any trip to Paris, just not Mondays when it is closed.
Head upstairs to the fifth floor to see the huge see-through clocks and view YSL’s collection for the Proust Ball which marked the author’s 100th anniversary.
Yves Saint Laurent dressed the hostess and actress Jane Birkin for the occasion.
Variations of the iconic YSL ‘Le Smoking’ are also on display. Every venue was amazing, but this was probably my favourite.
If you can, I would book to have lunch here and truly enjoy the experience in one of Paris’s exquisite museums. It beats any French café that’s for sure, and has a reasonably priced formule.
After lunch jump in a taxi to the Centre Pompidou.
The centre has a strong connection with YSL and hosted his farewell show in 2022 when he retired. Here you will find 13 pairings of his original designs with works by Matisse, Picasso and Léger, amongst others. You will also see the iconic dresses inspired by Mondrian.
Book your museum tickets in advance. If you are planning on doing all six, I would begin at the YSL Atelier, it gives you context to the museum displays.
Each museum hosts its own haute couture collection, so pick up the individual YSL brochure telling you where you can find them. We missed this at a couple of the museums and subsequently missed seeing part of the collections.
A few museums offer a discount if you visit more than one. Gustave Moreau, Petit Palais and Musée D’Orsay are three we did together.
Hold on to your original ticket and show it to get a discount on purchase. You cannot buy and get the discount online, but if you go in the week like we did, there weren’t queues.
Yves Saint Laurent aux Musées is on until 15 May 2022, though some may run longer. Check each museum’s website for details. We had to wear a mask and show our covid passport at every museum upon entry.
I cannot recommend this Paris guide enough. It is a fabulous way to see the city with a purpose.