One of the things I love most about Paris is seeing and experiencing things unique to Paris. Sure, the Eiffel Tower is a matchless Paris site. But the City of Light is filled with countless nooks to tuck into that may not see as much light, but are as bright as the discovery of a sparkly gem.
One of these bright gems is tucked into a nook so close to the highly popular Golden Triangle; it’s often overlooked. But if you should find yourself in Paris, and you have an interest in fashion and style, be sure to look up the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent. It has a wonderful jewel box of an exhibition space that hosts some highly specialized and unique presentations.
This most current visit was extra special as it was an opportunity to see a retrospective of the prêt-à-porter brand of Saint Laurent rive gauche. A step into the exhibition space was a time travel back to the mid 1960s – for me, a time before I was even born! It was exhilarating because it wasn’t just a travel back in time. It was a trip into a recreated version of the first Saint Laurent rive gauche boutique, which opened in September 1966.
For a couturier to have developed a prêt-à-porter brand at that time was revolutionary and changed the way designer fashion would become accessible to a greater number of customers. In fact, Saint Laurent was the first ever designer to simultaneously offer haute couture and prêt-à-porter selections.
This new business model and the respectively designed clothes became emblematic of the times. Women were gaining greater rights and independence in their professional and personal lives. Through his rive gauche collection and retail outlet, Saint Laurent designed a way to connect with a growing number of women customers as if to show that he was on their side. In fact, it was his social action that led to the democratization of designer clothes.
At the time Saint Laurent took this direction, it was thought his rive gauche brand would offer simplified versions of his haute couture styles. But instead, he broke away from the concept that haute couture is the only fashion. The rive gauche line focused on the importance of properly fitting clothes that were meant to fit a wider range of customers and kept up with modern times. Not one to take inspiration from the past, Saint Laurent kept his pulse on what was current, and ultimately propelled him and modern fashion into the future.
Seeing this incredible exhibit, I was struck by its symbolism of excellence in design and to Saint Laurent’s social ideals. I left the exhibit thinking about the work I do and how I hope to exemplify the same level of excellence and ideals by tailoring each of my client experiences to their unique needs, helping them learn how to be true to their authentic style.
Joseph Rosenfeld helps high-profile individuals revitalize, manage, and be secure in their personal visual brand. Visit JosephRosenfeld.com for details.