We have several takeaways from the several times (so far) we have visited the exhibit Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style at the Seattle Art Museum (on through January 8):
1. How truly daring Yves (if we may call him that so as not to confuse the man with the house) was: he promoted diversity on the runway long before it was de rigueur to do so; he made gender bending extremely fashionable, both through iconic designs like his Le Smoking suit and his cultivation of his own dashing feminine qualities (captured in Jeanloup Sieff’s famous nude photo of the designer in the ’70s on display at SAM); he reinvented and restored his career and himself after early setbacks and recurring bouts with depression and addiction.
2. How much our current fashion climate relies on ground he cultivated: ready-to-wear and diffusion lines, street-level boutiques, streetwear trends applied to couture, his collaborations with It girls and celebrities, his ability to read the zeitgeist and design a uniform for it.
3. How much better we should dress the next time we decide to pay homage to one of the 20th century’s most brilliant designers. Honestly, wearing jeans, a sweater and boots to this exhibit felt like sinning while approaching the altar to receive communion.
As we’ve thought more about Yves’s (we’re on a first name basis by now, surely) decadent, decades-defining career and life, we’ve also thought how fun it would have been to be one of the fabulous women (a Betty Catroux, a Loulou de la Falaise, a—dare we dream—Catherine Deneuve) in his orbit, one whom he dressed like he did his childhood paper dolls. And if so, what would he have selected for us? Here are our best guesses among modern YSL pieces, though no doubt Yves would have had something surprising up his impeccable sleeve.