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So I must have been like, the only person on the planet who hadn’t seen the Yves Saint Laurent: Style is Eternal exhibition at the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle. Beth and I popped by a couple of days ago. Finally.

The exhibition is a concise journey through Saint Laurent’s influences and history, from humble beginnings, where he’d make paper dress-up dolls with designs of his own creation, to his international success as a couturier. We see the way historical dress and his Pied Noir heritage manifest themselves in his work, and the way his personal interest in the art world was translated into clothing.

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If I had to criticise the exhibition, I’d say that it was rather small, and somewhat ‘padded out’ which the inclusion of non-YSL clothing from the museum’s own collection. Whilst it is important to show the way that Saint Laurent used elements of period dress in his designs, this could have been done more succinctly, as I feel that these somewhat overshadowed the YSL clothes on display, and it gave the sense that the curators were simply trying to bulk out the display.

Criticisms aside, it was nice to see the way certain periods of his career, or certain things that had become a theme throughout it, were nicely divided into easy-to-digest displays, such as Le Smoking, or the likes of Braque, Mondrian, and other artists. This isn’t V&A level, but it’s great for the North East, especially outside of one of the larger towns or cities. I think my favourite parts were the toiles and embroidery samples.

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The exhibition has been extended due to popularity, and is now open until 8th November. Definitely make your way there while you can! It’s a worthwhile trip for anyone interested in fashion and clothing. Tickets can be booked online.

– Niko




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