Yves Saint Laurent was already a star when he launched his own couture label in 1961. An assistant designer to the great Christian Dior, he stepped into the master’s shoes when Dior died suddenly, in 1957, and had a huge success with the Spring-Summer 1958 collection. Five collections later, in 1960, when Saint Laurent pushed into a more modern, beatnik-inflected mode, Dior’s clientele balked. His customers did not want to look “street,” no matter how expensive the materials. Saint Laurent was out, replaced by Marc Bohan. In December of 1961, with the help of Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent opened the doors of his own couture house and the rest, as they say, is history. Like Dior, Saint Laurent took inspiration from art and culture, but unlike Dior he played with gender in a way that was fresh and edgy, sort of French intellectual. YSL was soon synonymous with French fashion. Beginning this month, six Parisian museums—all places Saint Laurent would visit to enlighten his eye—honor the 60th anniversary of YSL’s launch with simultaneous exhibitions. —L.J.
Note: the Musée National Picasso Paris’s exhibition closes early, on April 15
Yves Saint Laurent aux Musées was featured in the January 22, 2022 issue of Air Mail. Read on