Dear Shaded Viewers,
An exhibition devoted to Betty Catroux, fashion icon and Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘female double’ is organized by the
Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris In partnership with Saint Laurent. The pieces that will be on disply come from a major donation Betty Catroux has made to the Fondation Pierre Berge – Yves Saint Laurent.
Madison Cox, president of the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, is giving Anthony Vaccarello carte blanche for this exhibition to be held at the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris. Anthony Vaccarello, who is currently artistic director of Saint Laurent, will approach Betty Catroux’s wardrobe from an aesthetic perspective by selecting the pieces that best reveal her unique personality and ongoing influence on the label’s signature style.
She lives and breathes Saint Laurent. An allure, a mystery, an almost nefarious aspect, an elusive yet desirable nature, all that underlies the house’s aura, and you understand the magnitude of it when you meet Betty.
– Anthony Vaccarello
Approximately fifty designs will show the extent to which Betty Catroux embodied Yves Saint Laurent’s physical ideal and an attitude echoing the ‘masculine feminine style’ that he was developing when they first met at the nightclub The New Jimmy’s in 1967. Yves Saint Laurent immediately fell in love with her androgynous look, which was radically different from the usual codes of femininity and seductiveness and remains the subject of ongoing fascination.
She’s perfect in my clothes. Just what I like. Long, long, long. – Yves Saint Laurent, Women’s Wear Daily, 1968
I’ve always been captivated by what’s masculine. Always wore jeans, a man’s jacket… I don’t feel like a girl or a boy, but
more in a seductive position when dressed in boy’s clothes. – Betty Catroux, Antidote, 2014
Betty Catroux, a true fashion icon, has been photographed by major artists, such as Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Steven Meisel and Jeanloup Sieff. Personal photos and original documents will show the unique bond between Yves Saint Laurent and Betty Catroux, whom the couturier called his ‘female double.’
The exhibition will also recount the full history of the signature ‘Saint Laurent style,’ which gained prominence in the 1960s and which the couturier would continue to explore until the haute couture house closed in 2002. The safari jacket, the jumpsuit, the trench coat, the pantsuit, and the tuxedo show how Yves Saint Laurent borrowed from the male wardrobe and adapted it for the female body. These archetypes are also intrinsically linked to the figure of Betty Catroux.
What I’m trying to make is a perfect type—a perfect type of clothing, even if it’s a simple blouse or a pair of pants—and to encourage women to build around them. From season to season, I’m always varying my style around the same basic prototypes in such a way that a woman doesn’t have to constantly change her wardrobe.
– Yves Saint Laurent, Femina (Hong Kong), 1978
The Betty Catroux Collection: A Distinctive Donation
Betty Catroux’s personal collection consists of 180 haute couture pieces, many of which were runway prototypes. In addition to these one-off items are 138 pieces that Yves Saint Laurent designed for his ready-to-wear line Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche as well as a collection of accessories (shoes, handbags, jewelry, etc).
This donation, which is the largest the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent has ever received, is particularly significant because these pieces embody both the signature style that Yves Saint Laurent continually upheld and his strong bond with Betty Catroux. It also displays the full wardrobe of a fashion icon.
These pieces complete the unique legacy left by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé when the haute couture house closed in 2002 and which the Fondation—recognized as a public utility in France—conserves and promotes.