The Yves Saint Laurent Exhibition Before I Was Born

It was the year 1985 in Pékin, China, Yves Saint Laurent came with the amazing tour exhibition of his 25 Years design work at National Art Museum Of China, to be noted, this exhibition was officially invited by the authority, signed under the Sino-French cultural connection program.


For the generations who have the clear vision of the 80s, they would remember the collectivism value and the policy of reformation and opening. China was really another world before then, the trend was to have a military jacket, either blue, green or gray color would be flocked by crowds. Therefore, for most of people, who have bumped into those foreigners who dressed in crisp black suits outside the cars, this could certainly be a shocking incident upon the street.

bb66From May 7 to July 7, 1985, “Yves Saint Laurent 25th Anniversary Exhibition” was held at National Art Museum Of China, which repented the highest level of Chinese art collection and exhibition by then. At that time, there was no specific details how the designer was invited, but one thing was certain, this exhibition was just like Pierre Cardin was invited before by the Chinese government which showed the determination of China’s policy of reformation and opening. Several foreign media, such as The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times have reported about the exhibition.

61985YSL-1024x836The exhibition of Yves Saint Laurent in Beijing was actually one of its global retrospective exhibitions. The exhibition began at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the main curator was Diana Vreeland, who has served as editor-in-chief of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, then she was pointed as consultant at Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

cae70989c2ea494d9994919fd14a1059_thTherefore, when the exhibition came to China, the curatorial team from The Metropolitan Museum of Art also worked along with the staff from Yves Saint Laurent to set up the exhibition to maintain the highest standard. More than 200 work pieces have been present at the exhibition, which indicated that the extensive connections between the incomparable beauty of design and the profound historical and cultural foundation of China.

timg-2The exhibition was divided into three halls, including “Mondrian” and “pop” art series; “Picasso Painting” series and the costume design; and it also contained its famous “hunting” (Safari) jackets and other design series influenced by “African, Chinese and Russian style”. But not everyone highly recommended about it, as the exhibition was way too far beyond of  China’s national social wear conditions. Those “low-end cocktail skirt” and “leopard coat” have already shocked and waved the aesthetic differences between the French fashion designer and ordinary Chinese mass.

51985YSL-1024x722Compared with Pierre Cardin, Yves Saint Laurent has kept a low profile during the tour. He said in an interview, “Compared to sell clothes, the more important thing is to show my art. And compared to open a shop, I wish to have long-term consequences for the crowd. It is an honor to come here because China is the birthplace of silk, and I have been inspired by Chinese art. ” He also wished this exhibition would be able to bring Chinese designers some new ideas and inspiration.

YSLCHINAAlthough at least initially, as one of the earliest approach by the international brands entered the Chinese market, Yves Saint Laurent’s tepid business performance was something of a disappointment, he went fast forward to hold exhibitions is now something to be valued as an important measure of market promotion in Asia of those premier luxury houses. As for me, I really look forward to bring the exhibition back to China soon for the 60 years anniversary.


Photo Resources From The Internet.

Charlie Wang

Editor-in-Chief at Eliel Magazine

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