A Closer Look at the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Paris
The Yves Saint Laurent Museum was officially inaugurated in 2017, after years of meticulous curation by the fashion house and its creators, mister Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé.
Fashion museums are a growing entity in Paris, especially as more and more of the moguls who made the brands into what they are take their exit from the physical realm. Their work and vision needs to live on somehow, so creating fashion house museums and foundations is the perfect memoir.
If you have even the slightest interest in European fashion, or simply the life that Saint Laurent and Bergé shared, then a visit to the YSL Museum needs to be on your to-do list in Paris.
OPENING HOURS: Tuesday to Sunday: 11am to 6pm
ADDRESS: 5 Avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris
METRO STATION: Alma-Marceau
What is the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Paris
As mentioned, the museum is a collective now-public space in which over 30 years of works from the YSL fashion house are on display permanently.
The YSL brand has been one of the most iconic couture houses of this century, and will likely live on to hold this title into the next.
What makes this 450 square foot mansion so special is that it was the original headquarters for YSL prior to becoming the museum. This was where the fashion magic happened in Paris for over three decades. The mansion was purchased by Yves and Pierre shortly after Yves’ dismissal from Dior after being hospitalized for a breakdown.
Within the space you’ll explore the permanent fashion collections as well as the actual salon rooms in which clients were received, rooms filled with prototypes, the studio in which thousands of garments were brought to life, and the original office of Yves himself.
The pair lived in the mansion as well, but at present the residential floors are not open to the public as part of the museum.
A Brief History of the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Paris
To give you some idea of the weight of history that this building encompasses one needs to go right to the beginning.
The YSL label was started from nothing, only to become one of the most reputable and celebrated fashion houses in the world. Yves Saint Laurent was not French himself, rather he was born in Oran, Algeria back in 1936.
He shows an affinity toward women’s clothing and design from a young age, and eventually fled Algeria for Paris, knowing this was the right move for him and his dream.
I touched on his getting fired by Dior. This happened early into his career after he had been working as their creative director for quite some time. Mental health issues landed Yves in hospital, to which he was met with dismissal from the fashion house.
It was then that Yves and longtime partner Pierre Bergé vowed to create a house of their own, using Yves’ name as the brand. They bought the mansion on Avenue Marceau and I suppose the rest is history.
It is thought that both Yves and Pierre had a vision that this house would one day become the museum that it is today. Even some of their earliest collections have hand-marked “m”s on the labels, though to stand for “museum”.
A lot of people aren’t aware that the pair had two properties; this one in Paris, and another in Marrakech, Morocco. A similar museum with the same name exists at the Marrakech location as well, with an array of collections and video footage gathered over the years.
Exhibitions at the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Paris
What you can expect to see in the exhibitions are exactly what initially comes to mind when one thinks of YSL.
Dresses, pant suits, accessories, sketches (some eventually made, others never used), photographs from thirty years of business, video footage of the same period.
In addition to the fashion pieces, visitors can walk through the personal office used by Yves throughout his role in the company. The museum has been careful to keep the office exactly as it was during Yves’ life; there are papers laying around, half opened books… it’s as if he is going to walk back in any second and resume where he left off.
Incredible to experience the space where these legendary creators once brainstormed, argued, laughed, cried…
If there is anything you need to know about Yves Saint Laurent it’s that his work, his art, was his life. There was nothing more important to him in the world. The remnants of this cling to the walls.
Surrounding Attractions to the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Paris
While you’re in this part of town you’ll see many free guided walking tours going by due to the many Parisian landmarks that this neighborhood holds.
The Palais Galliera is near the mansion and marks the most famous exhibition space in the French capital. It is usually used for prestigious events and shows during fashion week; Chanel holds a residency for showcasing in this space.
Two roads down is another grand exhibition hall: the Palais de Tokyo. Also often used during Paris fashion week, the space is usually centered around emerging contemporary artists within the country.
One road behind the Yves Saint Laurent Museum is the biggest name in Parisian cabaret after the Moulin Rouge. The Crazy Horse Paris is known as one of the best and most risqué cabaret experiences available in the city.
Not far away, on the bank of the Seine, is the Paris Museum of Modern Art. Perhaps it is just happy coincidence that Yves and Pierre bought property so near to this attraction, or perhaps it was intentional. Yves was a huge admirer of modern art, as you will see from his personal collections hanging in the museum office and studio.