Homage to Sergei Diaghilev and His Collaboration with Picasso

In 1979, the couturier was inspired by Sergei Diaghilev’s collaboration with Pablo Picasso for the ballet Parade, which was presented at the Théâtre du Châtelet in 1917. The painter designed the set, costumes, accessories, and stage curtain, a 170 m2 canvas now held at the Musée national d’Art moderne in Paris. This collaboration attested to Diaghilev’s interest in the work of avant-garde painters, not just the painters-set designers working in the theater.

At the National Gallery, I saw the exhibition of the scale models of Diaghilev’s sets for his ballets. After Bakst’s Oriental influence, you could feel the shift created by the war as well as a new impulse, a spark, with Le Tricorne and Parade. My collection is based on that specific moment and constructed like a ballet. I worked off of Picasso and a softer form of cubism, harlequins, the Blue Period, the Rose Period, the Tricorne period. … Some collections, like this one, seem special to me. I feel artistic joy. … Everything has changed. The dresses are shorter, the necklines lower, the shoulders broader. … I worked with flat colors, like a painter. I’m expressing a lot of things inside me in this collection. I’m projecting what I admire in painting and literature. I’m freeing myself with haute couture.

Yves Saint Laurent, cited by Laurence Benaïm. 

Picasso was genius in its purest form, bursting with life and candor. Picasso was not about purity. He was baroque! He not only had more than one string to his bow, but more than one bow and more than one trajectory.

Yves Saint Laurent, cited by Laurence Benaïm.