EXHIBITION: Yves Saint Laurent at the ING Cultural Centre in Place Royale, Belgium

tt It was a day trip to Brussels. There isn’t much to do in Brussels on a Monday; they treat it like a Sunday when most things are closed. Namely art galleries. This is my first recommendation; don’t go to Brussels on a Monday. Having wondered around the city for several hours I stumbled across an exhibition of haute couture of the iconic designer and legend that is Yves Saint Laurent at the ING Cultural Centre in Place Royale.

I walked through the darkly ominous doors into the exhibition which took you through a maze of rooms, each as decadent and luxurious as the other with every mannequin illuminated with a spot light and draped in the most iconic of garments. I wonder through a narrow corridor filled with drawings of all the couture from the late 60’s onwards. Each detailed drawing with samples of organza or silk or beading attached to it. And there were hundreds of these drawings expressing his diversity of vision over time and his idea of what women wanted to look like and feel which he believed was to be empowered and sexy.


There were video instillations of interviews with Saint Laurent himself and an interview with the CEO Pierre Berge who now protects the Saint Laurent Image & fashion house.

There is also the paradox with the genius of Saint Laurent and his private self ravaged with insecurities and addiction. A man who at the tender age of only 21 took over the house of Christian Dior. The man who lived a life of glamour and excess in 70’s New York, was friends with Warhol, had an army of models as confidantes and had every connection in the book. The fact that he lived the later years of his life in self imposed isolation makes the reality of the man behind the fashion house even more fascinating. With two biopics in the making for the screen also we will be invited into the insight of this man whose ideas have changed the way we dress. Office workers might not even consider that it was Saint Laurent after all who made it sexy for women to wear trousers and trouser suits.

yves2 A man of such complexity and genius he is as important as Coco Chanel or Christian Dior to fashion history. With Hedi Slimane newly at its helm and the loss of Yves in its name long may the legacy of Yves Saint Laurent continue.