why the st laurent museum matters
On this nippy November morning the city was aglow in Parisian neutrals: grey, cream and gold. I was expectant as I turned the corner into Avenue Marceau. Growing up in Vancouver in the early 70's the word Paris transported me to an enchanting world with Saint Laurent the epicenter of its chicness. And on this late Friday afternoon I joined a mostly female crowd (aged 25-75), all of us waiting to be transported and uplifted into a beautiful mythical world. In photos the Avenue Marceau atelier had seemed so much larger. But what this tiny space offered was a VERY edited selection of clothing. Initially disappointing, but later upon reflection I realized what a gift. Whether curating a personal wardrobe or a huge museum collection editing is the essential skill. And that is one of the key learnings a fashion exhibition can offer. Personal style requires really understanding what works for you...what you love, can easily combine and will really wear. Amid the staggering selection available you zero in on that which will most highlight your vision. That is part of the enduring legacy of Audrey Hepburn, we get and remember her very edited wardrobe. My initial disappointment in the YSL museum turned to gratitude. Such a tightly edited collection made the simplicity and timelessness of the clothes all the more visible and easy to take in.
Because this skill...to reduce to the max your message is essential whether it is your wardrobe or a PPT presentation. The test of true creativity is not when there is nothing more to add but when there is nothing more to eliminate. That is where you sense if the underlying structure works. Clearly to create feeling of timeless elegance the small rooms could not be overstuffed and so surely many discussion ensued with the curating team...what to keep and what to leave out. For most women wardrobes are not built in such team work...and therein lies the challenge. If you want you can keep it all. Many women do and end up stressed when they open their proverbial closet full of clothes and find nothing to wear. I would say that a visit to the YSL museum allows you to practise zeroing in on what you love most. Further editing this already amazing editing job. Such a visit is training your eye to seek out the essential and leave the rest. And by essential I mean that which is truly poignant to you. For again, whether it is your PPPT or your wardrobe being authentic means understanding your own perspective. For that which touches you deeply leads to a deepening awareness of your unique taste.
Here is my personal Q & A
Lisa, did the museum live up to your expectations?
Mmm, not entirely. There were too many videos and interview and this is not what I came for. I really came for the mythical clothing not for the YSL legend of the man.
What did you love about your museum visit?
I was amazed at how well it was edited. Clearly there are iconic dresses that we all know, the Mondrian dress and the Ballet Russe peasant skirts and I expected these to be chosen. But the last room of cocktail dresses surprised me.
What surprised you Lisa?
I loved the simple black and white color scheme and the simple elegant almost Grecian draped shapes. And especially how in this particular room every thing appeared modern and relevant almost minimal.
Can you explain further?
On the jewellery wall it was almost too much to take in. Whereas here it was so reduced, a black and white color scheme and then the extravagant modern earring.
And your key take home?
When presenting a message that others need to see, listen too and value...less is more. The video wall was for me too much. The final room cocktail dress room stuck in my memory and because the choices were consistent, clear and cohesive.
I hope many of you get to visit this beautiful museum and walk away not only understand the craftsmanship and timelessness of YSL better, but also more keenly aware of what you love and why. I would love to hear from you!