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Art in its many forms occasionally comes together, and that is the case with Yves Saint Laurent. The designer's admiration for Picasso, Léger, Braque, Mondrian, Bonnard,

as well as Pop and African Art provided inspiration for his own work throughout his career. In the former couture salon, now become museum, a sense of nostalgia permeates the space. In archival video of catwalk shows, in the selection of couture pieces from 1965-1988 on display, and in extracts of interviews, "A Dialogue With Art" is exhibited at the Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent on Avenue Marceau.

Two pieces from the "Métal et Voile" collection of the winter of 1969 stand breezily by the entranceway, gossamer chiffon wrapped in sculpted golden busts by Claude Lalanne. To the rear, a Matisse (1937) on loan from Saint Laurent's Rue de Babylon apartment provides contrast and texture.

A twisting, white catwalk, which ribbons through the newly-renovated room, leads to the Pop Art collection. The lyrics "Penny Lane is in my ears and in my eyes" - as recorded by the Beatles becomes a segue to dresses blown with hearts, geometrical cutouts and the famous nude silhouette, a gown once modeled by Catherine Deneuve. Hanging on the wall is an Andy Warhol tableau comprised of four portraits of the Saint Laurent (1971) in dissolving shades of crimson.

But perhaps the highlight of the exhibit are the extracts of interviews with Saint Laurent. Though the designer seems at times to be speaking out of a haze of opium, his words slurring, the responses are both poignant and insightful. On color, he says "It's Morocco that inspires me. The light is different there, and suddenly you are aware of color." On the Mondrian pieces: "I can't tell you how I did it. How I took the strict graphic lines of a Mondrian panting, and made them fit the curves of a woman's body."

The multimedia presentation even projects Saint Laurent's handwritten letters onto a screen "there is nothing more beautiful than a woman's body nude. Couture only replaces a man's hands embracing her."

A Picasso (1914) is centered on the wall, with cool shades of bluish green contrasting with the brilliant red and orange hues of "Iris and Sunflowers". That jacket, based on Van Gough's painting, sits behind a glass case like a treasure, displaying 350,000 sequins and 100,000 tubes of porcelain sewn one at a time and requiring 600 hours of painstaking work by François Lesage.

One wall dedicated to sketches, now numbered and archived, demonstrates the creative process from beginning to end. That attention to detail, that meticulous care in putting a jigsaw puzzle together has sadly been lost in the mass-produced label that now bears the designer's name.

Yves Saint Laurent, the artist so delicate and so inspiring, comes back to our eyes and to our heart - this exposition is a must for lovers of fashion the world over.

Yves Saint Laurent - A Dialogue with Art
From March 10 to July 18, 2004
5 Avenue Marceau
75116 Paris
From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. except Monday and Tuesday


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