Everywhere You Look, It’s Yves


Yves Saint Laurent is showing up everywhere in Paris again. As I was waiting in front of H&M this Saturday to buy a sweater from the Sonia Rykiel for H&M collection, a woman in line with me recalled spending four hours in line last February to see the exhibition of the art collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé at the Grand Palais. Yves Saint Laurent passed away in June of the previous year and the auction at Christie’s of over 700 items, following the Grand Palais show, took in 484 million USD (breaking 25 records for artists and pushing up the value of Art Deco and silver) and making it the most valuable private art collection ever sold at auction. Last November the contents of YSL and Bergé’s Normandy country house was sold by Christie’s (everything from Napoleon III furniture to YSL’s crocodile luggage from Hermès) and it went for three times its initial estimate: 13.22 million USD.
2010 was beginning to look like a year without Yves Saint Laurent, until Paris’s Petit Palais and the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent announced the dates for the first complete retrospective of YSL’s oeuvre, including 307 pieces as well as drawings, photographs and films.  This show spans the designer’s debut at Dior in 1958 through his retirement in 2002. Then came French singer Alain Chamfort with his new album, Une Vie Saint Laurent, an homage to the couturier in 16 songs. Chamfort never met YSL, but the idea for the album was spawned a few months before the designer’s death in 2008, aged 71.  The songs touch on YSL’s birthplace in Oran, Algeria, his first job, as the right hand to Christian Dior, meeting Bergé, problems with drug abuse and even the unwelcome arrival of Tom Ford at the house after his retirement.
Chamfort, 60, is an elegant singer and he has produced this album himself and is selling it online, and a collector’s edition of the album with lyrics, scores and additional texts by Robert Murphy is available at selected bookstores. “There is true drama in the life of Yves Saint Laurent,” says Chamfort.  “Besides his rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, he helped liberate women by dressing them like men. In fact he accompanied their rise to power.”.  Ah, Chamfort, how French you are!
A room will be devoted to Chamfort’s Une Vie Saint Laurent, at the Petit Palais and don’t worry about a lack of YSL in the future. The rumor is that the album will be adapted into a musical for Paris’s Théâtre de Chaillot at the end of  2011.