Where are the places of pretty this spring: New York, London, Madrid and Paris? Oh, don’t forget Denver!
No we’re not talking about the Western Apparel Market that shows up around Stock Show time each year. We’re talking the full-on glamour outfits of elite designers found on the runways of New York and Paris. What’s turning the Mile High City into a fashion brand? A dazzling exhibit of Yves Saint Laurent’s (YSL) work that is making just one stop in North America — at the Denver Art Museum (DAM).
The Retrospective that premiered in 2010 at Le Petit Palais Musee des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris is a time capsule of the designer’s work. Running through July 8, the show does not hang a thread to anyone else’s glamour. Rather — like YSL’s creations – the 15-part themed exhibit achieves a creative relationship between setting style and recognizing popular trends that made them not only wardrobe necessities, but also reflected women’s changing role in society. On view in the Anschutz Gallery in the Hamilton Building the exhibit features more than 1,100 pieces from the fashion designer collection.
Just as the once modest neckline suddenly took the plunge, Denver’s fashion and design community had just started to flourish when the YSL exhibit was announced. With a sudden intuitive leap the Valley is bursting with glorious, bold and exuberant “high fashion” in storefronts and catwalks around the city. Retailers are jostling for our attention, utilizing just about every color in the designer’s rainbow.
In advance of the highly anticipated exhibit, the MAX Clothing Store in Cherry Creek North hosted an extraordinary March YSL trunk show featuring everything from evening gowns and cocktail dresses to ready-to-wear, cruise collections, footwear and accessories. For the past five years, MAX has been the official point of distribution of YSL apparel in Colorado.
Valley shoppers can get a peek at rare vintage YSL runway jewelry pieces at Dan Sharp Europe. The shop located on Steele Street in Cherry Creek North is a sponsor of the YSL Retrospective at the art museum. On display is a collection of necklaces, cuffs, earrings and brooches. Information: 303-333-6666.
Fashion hunters can also treat themselves to a fashion consultation with a local Denver designer at Carol Mier Fashion on Santa Fe on the first and third Fridays beginning April 6 and 20 and running through July 6. Information: 303-446-0117.
Designer, Show Magnet
The YSL exhibit has been the perfect pollinating agent to attract designers and fashion shows to the city. New York designer Maria Cornejo made her first public appearance in Denver at the MAX Clothing Store’s annual fashion show at the EXDO Event Center on March 16. Her line is sold in leading stores around the world, with a flagship store and showroom in New York. Information: 303-321-4949.
Hangar 41, located in the Art District on Santa Fe, will transform its gallery space into a sleek runway to present the latest fashion designs from two of Denver’s elite designers — Gabriela Martinez and Rae Marie — on May 11, 7-8 p.m. The first 25 members to RSVP will be invited to meet the designers and attend the fashion show. Following the show an open reception for the public to view some of the pieces from the runway will take place from 8-9 p.m. Information: 303-954-0933.
To open the high-fashion exhibition, the art museum presented a fashion show featuring eight designers from past seasons of the popular TV show Project Runway. Each designer sent five YSL-inspired outfits down the runway on March 30. It was hosted in partnership with Denver’s Fallene Wells, a former Project Runway contestant and creator of the local fashion production company Forever Darling. Then on Nov. 10 as the grand finale to a Cut ‘n’ Sew Yves Saint Laurent Challenge models will walk down a runway on the 16th Street Mall at 2 p.m. It is part of a throw down that pits Denver’s best and most innovative designers against one another to see who rules the runway. The four local designers — Melissa May, Trisha Hoke, Rachel Marie Hurst, and Heidi Busk — will pick out fabric in advance, and on the day of the show will have four hours to create an outfit.
Christoph Heinrich is the man responsible for bringing YSL to Denver. Since being named DAM Director in late 2009, he has brought a unique and fresh approach to the museum’s programming and projects. “When I saw the YSL show in Paris I was just blown away by the colors, the textures, the simple cuts that were reduced but at the same time very elegant,” Heinrich said. “When I walked through the show, it felt very much like walking into a painting.”
The immersive and interactive environment of the YSL exhibition compliments the art museum’s onsite programming. As a leader in the field of interactive experiences that explore creativity and engage participants, the DAM also has a Fashion Studio connecting the fashion and design community with the exhibition and its visitors.
This sweeping retrospective of the designer’s 40 years of creativity features a stunning selection of 200 haute couture outfits along with numerous photographs, drawings and films that illustrate the development of Saint Laurent’s style and the historical foundations of his work. Organized thematically, the presentation melds design and art to explore the full arc of Saint Laurent’s career, from his first days at Christian Dior in 1958 through the splendor of his final runway collection in 2002. He died in 2008 at the age of 71.
You do not have to own a YSL dress or even be all that interested in fashion in order to appreciate the exhibition. Saint Laurent’s most famous design is when he adapted a man’s tuxedo for a woman, turning the pantsuit into a closet staple for women today.
Highlights of the show include: The Gender Revolution galleries, where visitors will see how Saint Laurent bent (and sometimes broke) the rules of what women were expected to wear, crafting the wardrobe for today’s modern woman. The Yves Saint Laurent & Women section displays the clothing of the historic women who wore and supported Saint Laurent, including Catherine Deneuve, Princess Grace of Monaco, and Paloma Picasso. The Last Ball section features exquisite evening dresses from the glory days of haute couture, complete with a red carpet, and the Colors of Yves Saint Laurent gallery, where guests will enjoy vibrant examples from his collections and hundreds of fabric samples. Information: 720-865-5000.