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The exhibition Yves Saint Laurent: Behind the scenes of haute couture in Lyon will be on view from June 17 through December 5, 2021 at the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris. The culmination of an extensive collaborative project between the museum and the musée des Tissus de Lyon, where it opened in November 2019, the exhibition shines a light on the solid 40-year working relationship between the couturier and Lyon-based manufacturers and suppliers of materials and fabrics.

The extraordinarily talented Yves Saint Laurent and his world are showcased among sublime fabrics from the most eminent Lyon houses. Delicate muslins, shimmering woven fabrics and exquisite velvets reveal themselves in an exhibition that highlights a close and steadfast creative collaboration that lasted over forty years. With thirty haute couture ensembles shown alongside numerous documents, the exhibition forges an original approach to explore the couturier’s creative process.

The exhibition traces the relationship between a brilliant couturier who “could design a dress with his eyes closed – that’s how well he knows fabrics” and one of the most renowned textile industries in the world, whose expertise and unparalleled creativity were integral to Parisian haute couture.

The exhibition is organised around seven Lyon-based textile firms that Yves Saint Laurent relied on when designing. It also opens a window onto the secrets of fabric making, including crepe, muslin, taffeta and velvet. An exploration of the unique tactile and technical characteristics of each fabric gives the visitor a fresh look into the heart of the creative process of one of the greatest fashion designers of the 20th century.

We show that the creative and technical aspects of haute couture are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they are clearly interconnected; one reinforces the other.

A new approach to understanding Yves Saint Laurent’s creativity. "Exploring the relationship between the couturier and these Lyon-based textile manufacturers and suppliers has given us the opportunity to see Yves Saint Laurent’s creative genius in a new light. We show that the creative and technical aspects of haute couture are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they are clearly interconnected; one reinforces the other. By mounting this exhibition at 5 Avenue Marceau, where the renowned couture house was located, we not only pay a well-deserved homage to the expertise of the entire Lyonnais region, but we also provide visitors with an understanding of the couturier’s creative process from a new angle and from its epicentre: Here, in Yves Saint Laurent’s studio, these magnificent fabrics come to life before our eyes." — Aurélie Samuel, Co-curator of the exhibition and Director of collections at the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris.

"This exhibition gives us the opportunity to see certain dresses from the collection of the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris that have rarely or never before been shown to the public. The fabrics used in all of the dresses we chose could be traced to specific suppliers from Lyon and the surrounding region. The exhibition also provided a chance for the musée des Tissus to employ its textile analysis expertise. Fabrics such as these, from the 20th century, are less often studied than those from centuries past. We show that the technical aspects of textile manufacturing are fundamental, and that Yves Saint Laurent, by taking advantage of technical innovations, was able to design dresses that could not have been imagined until then. This is one of the goals of the exhibition: to show the relationship between a great couturier and the material at his disposal." — Esclarmonde Monteil Co-curator of the exhibition and Director of the musée des Tissus in Lyon.

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