Yves Saint Laurent, an early patron of the artist duo Les Lalanne, delighted in the flock of woolly sheep that he bought from the Alexandre Iolas Gallery, in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, and kept in his apartment on the Rue de Babylone. The designer often joked that they allowed him to pretend he was on a farm in Normandy, an aspiration he shared with the last queen of France.
There is a delicious irony in the concept of a Les Lalanne exhibition at the estate of the Petit Trianon, at Versailles. A masterpiece of picturesque landscape gardening when it was created, the park was designed with the sole purpose of delighting the senses and charming long-gone aristocratic revelers. The queen worked with her architect Richard Mique to create her fantasy court, adding the Temple of Love, the Queen’s Theatre, the Belvedere Pavilion, an artificial waterfall, and the Hameau de Reine (Queen’s Hamlet)—a royal play farm. Presented to Marie Antoinette after the birth of her first child, the garden was meant to provide escape from the rigid routine of palace life.