‘I approached every country through dreams.’ 

– Yves Saint Laurent

In the first temporary exhibition held since the opening of the Yves Saint Laurent Museum, one is enchanted by haute couture designs inspired by India, China and Japan. Archive drawings, photographs and the designer’s collection of objects (some ceramics, lacquerware and wood sculptures) all help tell the story of Yves Saint Laurent’s dream of the Orient.

The textiles used, and craftsmanship of these garments, are the highlight of an exhibition arranged by different cultural influences. With richly adorned and heavily embroidered garments, dripping in gold and faceted stones, the section on India was exceptional; depicting beautifully woven silk of Boteh*, brocade and moiré fabrics, elegantly draped and structured to adorn the female form.

Throughout the exhibition are gorgeous drawings; of particular note being those for the YSL Opium perfume bottles, alongside prototypes. The perfume was launched by the house in 1977, for ‘women who are addicted to Yves Saint Laurent,’ and remains one of the most successful creations in the history of fragrances. Yves Saint Laurent drew, wrote and approved every stage in the development process of the product and was inspired by Japanese inro*


Yves Saint Laurent was a dreamer and an artist, and both are evident in his thoughtful designs for women.

*Boteh – also known as ‘Paisley’ which is the British term for this Persian foliage-inspired pattern

*inro – a small lacquer box meant to hold medicine that was held in place with a cord and kept closed by an ojime button and a small netsuke sculpture.