Yves Saint Laurent
Early Drawings

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In commemoration of the ten-year anniversary of the couturier’s death in Paris on June 1, 2008, the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris will pay tribute to him by holding a special exhibition of sixty of his early drawings, exhibited in the museum’s haute couture salons, from May 29 to September 9, 2018. 

Most of these works—drawn by the couturier as a teenager in Oran before his arrival in Paris in September 1954—will be on display for the very first time. They provide unique insight into Saint Laurent’s early years and his passion for literature, theater, ballet, and fashion, making it possible to understand the sources that inspired his future designs. 

For the anniversary of the couturier's death, admission to the museum will be free on Friday June 1, 2018, from 11 am to 9 pm (last entry at 8.15 pm).

The youth of Yves Saint Laurent (1936 - 1954)

Yves Mathieu-Saint-Laurent was born in Oran, Algeria on August 1, 1936. A shy young boy, he grew up among the society people of Oran along with his parents Lucienne and Charles and his two sisters Michèle and Brigitte. His drawing talents emerged early on, while he was still a teenager.

His creativity initially found an outlet in the theater, which he discovered when he saw Molière’s École des femmes (School for Wives) directed by Louis Jouvet, in Oran in 1950. Christian Bérard’s costumes for this production were a revelation for the young Saint Laurent, who began designing sets and costumes for his “Illustre Petit Théâtre,” a miniature stage set for a series of cardboard characters. He also designed costumes for Jean Giraudoux’s Sodome et Gomorrhe (Sodom and Gomorrah) and Jean Cocteau’s L’Aigle à Deux Têtes (The Eagle with Two Heads).

Saint Laurent’s passion for the theater was matched by his love of literature. He spent time transcribing and illustrating his favorite novels and poems, such as Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.

Saint Laurent was interested in fashion as early as 1953, when he began dreaming up his ideal haute couture house using the silhouettes of his favorite models, which he cut out of his mother’s fashion magazines. He designed entire wardrobes for these paper dolls. Fifty pieces from this series will be on display in the exhibition for the first time ever in France.

In 1954, Saint Laurent decided to pursue a career in fashion after he was advised to do so by Michel de Brunhoff, editor-in-chief of Vogue (Paris), whom he met thanks to his father’s contacts. He decided to study at the École de la Chambre syndicale de la couture in Paris, before entering Christian Dior's Haute Couture House in the summer 1955. 

For further information, take a look at the interactive biographies of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé and discover the chronicle dedicated to Saint Laurent's youth, online on June, 1. 

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