YSL - the shy genius

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

YSL, 1971 (Photographed by Jeanloup Sieff)

"- What is your biggest fault?"
- Timidity."

Maybe not many of you are aware of how shy Yves Saint Laurent really was, maybe you thought that his answer from the Proust questionnaire as to which his biggest fault is was not very earnest. After all who could blame you? Who could think that such a great artist could be that shy? Especially when you see one of his most known pictures - the one opening this post. That's why I wanted to talk to you about this today and show you a video where you can really see how shy he was, while on the other hand presenting you pieces from his most controversial collection, a collection that brought worldwide media discontent, whereas before he had been crowned "Le Prince de la Mode" by those same journalists.

And now after that video, two pieces from his controversial 1968 collection:

1968: The backless dress

1968: The see through dress

Maybe not as controversial as these other pieces, the smoking was however largely debated over, when Yves Saint Laurent decided to dress women in it. Here is probably the most famous picture of any Yves Saint Laurent smoking shot by Helmut Newton, that appeared in an issue of Vogue from 1975.

1975: Le smoking (Photographed by Helmut Newton)

No matter how bold his creations, inside he always remained this timid young boy that created amazing dresses without even thinking about what he was about to design. He used to say that he used to first draw the face and then the dress just kind of drew itself.

1954: The design that won him a job at Dior fashion House

YSL and the Proust questionnaire

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

"I create dresses and I sleep." (Photo: 1969)

One of the most moving rooms from the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition at the Petit Palais was the Imaginary Studio. It was a dark room displaying 4 gorgeous dresses Yves Saint Laurent had designed for the bal Proust given by the Rothschilds in 1971. The dresses were donated by Jane Birkin, Hélène Rochas, Marie-Hélène de Rothschild and Nan Kempner. My favourite was without a doubt the one worn by Jane Birkin. The intricate lace details and the overall flow of the dress make it almost surreal, as if it were floating on the mannequin.

The beatiful dresses however were not the cause of the special atmosphere inside this room. Emotions flowed as soon as you started to hear out of nowhere Yves Saint Laurent's voice answering an interview known as the Proust questionnaire* at the beginning of his carrier. Hearing his voice in this tiny, dark room, amongst his creations transformed the simple space into a sanctuary. It created a spiritual connection between the public and the artist.

"- Which is your main character trait?
- Will.

- Your main fault?
- Timidity.

- Your favourite quality in a man?
- Indulgence.

- And in a woman?
- The same thing.

- Your favourite historical figure?
- Mademoiselle Chanel.

- Your heroes in real life?
- The persons I admire.

- If not yourself, who would you be?
- A beatnik.**

- Your idea of earthly happiness?
- Sleeping with the persons I love.

- Your idea of the height of misery?
- Loneliness.

- Where would you like to live?
- In the sunshine, at the seaside.

- Which natural talent would you like to be gifted with?
- Physical force.

- For what fault have you most toleration?
- Treachery.

- Your favourite painter?
- Picasso.

- Your favourite composer?
- Bach and the XIXth century opera musicians.

- And what authors besides Proust?
- I love Proust so much, that it's very difficult for me to place him amongst other writers.

- Your favourite colour?
- Black.

- What do you hate the most?
- The snobbery money brings.

- What would you like to do with your life right now?
- What I would like to do? I would like to go away, go away for a long time, without doing anything, forgetting everything and then coming back to see if I still want to make dresses."

Here is a small fragment of the interview, unfortunately I couldn't find a better video. If you ignore the music, you can still listen to him talk.

* it's a questionnaire about someone's personality, that was made famous because of the answers of Marcel Proust.
** a media stereotype of the 50s and 60s, depicting a person who was part of the Beat generation. You can find more online about this movement here on Wikipedia.

YSL exhibition @ Petit Palais in Paris

Monday, 28 June 2010

"- What is your favourite colour?
- Black."

Last week I was in Paris. As if that wouldn't have been enough, I also got a chance to see one of my dreams come true: my eyes dived into hundreds and hundreds of lush fabrics, haute couture dresses and sketches as I attended the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition at the Petit Palais in Paris. It felt like magic! I spent over three hours lurking around the mannequins trying not to feel overwhelmed (without succeeding!) and after I got out in the real world it was like I didn't even know where I was, I was confused still under the spell of his genius.

The coup de maître, the focal point of the exhibition for me was the room of the evening gowns and the wall of smokings, but everything was organised so perfectly, that it's difficult to find any flaws in the choice of pieces they showed to the public or in the arrangement.

Yves Saint Laurent is one of my favourite designers. He was always interested in dressing a woman in such clothes that make her both look well and feel confident and powerful, without once considering what was fashionable at the moment or not. His style evolved continually throughout his 40 years of career as a designer; from being Christian Dior's assistant, to taking over the business after the Master's death, from using black as his favourite colour until discovering colour in Marrakech and becoming more and more inspired by different cultures, like the African, Russian or Arabian ones.

He made bold and controversial fashion statements dressing women in pants, creating the smoking as an alternative for the evening gown, sending dresses made of see-through fabrics to the runway and mixing colours one would have never thought possible combining, like orange and bright pink.

Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside the exhibition, so I don't have any pictures of my own to show you. I will however try in the next days to make a selection of his work and show you some of his most controversial pieces and some my favourite pieces from the exhibition. For now I'll show you some pictures published in a newspaper from the exhibition:

African inspiration


The Smoking - from 1966 to 2002

Vintage clothes @ Street Delivery

Friday, 18 June 2010

Vintage clothes shops are really special, they don't look anything like normal clothes stores. The window displays are different, the colours are more vivid, the salespeople have a unique sense of taste and the shop just oozes tranquility, as if it was stuck in time. The clothes seem to have a very well defined personality and it's like they are just hanging there on a rack waiting for the right person to walk in and make them their own. Vintage clothes don't usually mold to somebody's personality, it's the buyer himself who has to be on the same note with the clothes he's choosing. Wearing vintage is not simple, you have to have the eye for it, you have to know what works with your proportions and how to wear the clothes.

Going through a vintage shop is a thrilling experience, like going back in time. While looking and touching the clothes, the bags and the glasses I remembered how I used to dress up in my grandma's clothes and do fashion shows when I was about 4 or 5. From back then I knew that I would end up loving everything old - old clothes, jewelry, shoes or glasses... you name it!

Hats & Bags

The shopassistant


Bags hanging

Buy Hand jewelry

And speaking of vintage... Could a bag made of two vinyls kept together with some leather be called vintage if the vinyls are old enough? I thought these bags brought a great touch of modernism to the racks, between all the other vintage stuff. I'm only sorry I didn't manage to take a picture of them.

And you? What's your favorite vintage item? What do you look for mostly in a vintage store?

Pets for free @ Street Delivery

Thursday, 17 June 2010

To mark the beginning of the Street Delivery series of posts I had an article without photos, one where I was just describing what I had seen the first day. One of the things I was telling you about were the pets that were on sale there. Well my lack of information misled me and fortunately today I am able to give you the true version - Iulia told me today that the pets were actually given for free to people who wanted to give them a home. Some of them were even rescued from the street.

During the 3 days of the Street Delivery over 40 cats and dogs found a new home!

Jam session @ Street delivery

In the piazza in front of the Anglican Church there are scattered cherry tree trunks partially covered in brass. They are supposed to remind the passers by of a forest on the outskirts of Bucharest that was cut to the ground a few years ago. It's nice to see these trees get a second chance to "live". In this setting there was a white tent set up for jam sessions during the Street Delivery event. Here are some pictures of people playing djembes, boxes and even something that looks like a dichiridu only with spaces for placing the fingers, while the crowd danced and moved around like an ant swarm, taking pictures from all possible angles.

Feeling the music

It's all about the rhythm

Keeping up with the leader


Grafitti & people @ Street Delivery 2010

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

I snapped a few pics of the artists while they were repainting the graffiti wall that has become a symbol of the Street Delivery festival since its beginnings a few years ago. These vibrant colors will most certainly liven up the area until next year!


Random pics @ Street Delivery

I'll probably go on with the Street Delivery series until the end of the week, because I've still got some surprising shots I want to show you. Today's theme is mainly nothing, these are just some random pictures I took to show you both the artists and the scenery of the event.

The Hunchback of Arthur Verona

The street


Playing around

This guy was improvising a show in front of the people who sat at the "Barefoot on the grass" corner. The street was also full watching him turn around with his little bean sack.

I caught this other guy running at full speed through the crowded street on top of those torture instruments. I was so afraid he might fall that I sped up my picture taking rhythm in hope of catching a good glimpse of him on camera while he was still standing! And fortunately for him, he was a real pro and didn't fell, it was just me who was too scared to watch...

In motion

And last but not least - the true artist, the true photographer. I watched him for about 5 minutes while he was adjusting the little piece of paper on which was written Street Delivery behind the frame of the mirror and then while he was taking the pictures. I was really amazed by the attention he gave to all the small details and his idea of a picture was absolutely great. Can you figure out what he's photographing? Well it's the reflection of the street in the mirror with the little sign in the corner of the photo that says Street Delivery, just so that people know where it was taken. I was very impressed with him and a little ashamed that I hadn't thought of that idea first.

The artist

My contribution @ Street Delivery

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

While turning with my camera in all directions I spotted a few guys standing in front of some sort of "social art thing" - the kind of art where different people draw what they feel like drawing and the final result is a mixture of the many contributors.

These guys were holding spray paint in their hands and they painted some mushroom-like art forms. I took a picture of them because I thought they looked really cool and they invited me to join in! I was really excited but a little anxious... I don't really draw that well very fast... But I left my fears aside, they handed me some white spray paint and I drew the first thing that came to my mind - my signature! It's supposed to be a self-portrait ;)

This is how the art-mushrooms looked like before I could get my hands on the spray paint:

And afterwards... well I'd say there's a huge white-faced improvement! What do you think?

Sitting around @ Street Delivery

Monday, 14 June 2010

I went to the Street Delivery event on Arthur Verona St. for a second time yesterday afternoon to take some pictures, as I had forgotten my camery the day before. And guess what? I had almost no battery left... I had been thinking of going there to take pictures for almost 24 hours - HOW could I forget to check if I had enough battery?! Some things just slip our minds I guess... Luckily my camera decided it wanted to go to sleep just as I had finished making the tour once, so I didn't miss almost anything. This will be a very important lesson for the future!

Here are some pictures of the different places where people sat around:

Photographers' reunion @ the red couch

"Barefoot on the grass" - the jazz place

Chillin' on the carpet

Bike stop

Public library I

Recyclable furniture @ Cafe Verona

Public library II

Street Delivery @ Pictor Verona

Sunday, 13 June 2010

As some of the people who live in Bucharest already know, these days Carturesti library and the Romanian Architects' Guild have been organizing this strange but beautiful event called Street Delivery on Arthur Verona St.

You'll probably ask yourself why strange... well because it's so great that one can barly judge something like this possible in Bucharest! The event stretches on 3 days and its main goal is to show people how it would be like if we had more streets transformed into pedestrian areas. But that's not all it is to it - they have organized a huge event around this idea with street performers, musicians, different organizations that present their work (usually related to protecting the environment or architecture and urbanism) and look for volunteers, they even have lonely pets and pets they rescued from the street to give away for free!

It will all be unfortunately over this evening, but hey! everybody's already waiting for next years' Street Delivery!

As I missed the other Street Deliveries the past 3 years, I said to myself that this year I had to be there, despite the excruciating heat! Lucky for you... I forgot my camera... but I'm going there again this evening to take as many shots as possible. Hopefully I'll find the same gorgeous crowd I saw there last night!

My Top 5 attractions:

1. The magic act and the mentalist - two great guys putting up a great show on the street, getting all the attention they need from the avid crowd. Plus they're raising money for a children's hospital. I'll tell you all about it in another post, I thought I was delusional by the end of it!

2. The grass garden - where you can sit on chairs or pillows with your bare feet in the cold grass while listening to some guy playing a soft jazzy music on the piano. Just awesome!

3. The music, especially the "Modulab" where they organize great jam sessions all day long. I thought it was very interesting when I saw 2 little gipsy kids playing the drums with the professionals! These kids really are quick learners!

4. All the different workshops for kids - pottery, painting pottery, making stickers and others. They seemed to have a lot of fun!

5. Al the vintage clothing shops... bags... sunglasses... dresses... shoes.... they were incredible!!!

And then there was of course the graffiti they were doing... on a whole house - like a trademark of the festival that is allowed to remain on the building until next year's Street Delivery when it will be replaced by the new one. How cool a tradition is that?

I'll get back with fresh pictures and maybe new stories!

PS: For those of you who want to check out the programme of the festival or any information related to the different organizations or shops present there, you can find it online under www.streetdelivery.ro/bucuresti/

Rainy day

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Looking at the sun and the heat outside, I find myself longing for a breath of fresh air... rain immediately comes to mind - what could be more wonderful than a rainy day in the city of waters, Venice?

Walking through the streets and over the bridges of Venice is always great, but in May it's just wonderful! There are even more tourists than in August (I really don't understand that!), but they don't get up that early in the morning. So if you want the whole town to yourself you have to rush in the morning. I took these shots at about 7 - 7.30 in the morning and everything was absolutely gorgeous. The city was full of life, real life - men and women rushing to work, all going in different directions with colourful umbrellas, on foot or on their boats.

Venice really is one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and one of the few cities that manages to impress me every time I go there. There really is something special about this city, I don't know what it is, maybe it's the sumptuous houses emerging from the depths of the emerald waters of the laguna or maybe it's the idea of an entire city like a museum.


Wednesday, 9 June 2010

I've been to Italy since the last time I posted something, but today's post is not going to be about Italy, but about this beautiful sunset I saw on the way over lake Balaton in Hungary.

I was travelling by train, so don't let the pictures fool you, it was really hard getting these shots! Trees were coming out of nowhere exactly in between my shots, my lenses or the sun reflected on the window of the compartment... it was really hard, but it was worth it, because I got some spectacular shots of the sun setting over the lake.

I'll be soon trying to do the same on lake Herastrau here in Bucharest, so be sure to check for those pictures in the following week!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...