Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Yves Saint Laurent, Le Film.

Yves Saint Laurent

Yesterday, I saw the Yves Saint Laurent movie with Pierre Niney and Guillaume Gallienne. I was looking forward to seeing lots of beautiful dresses and I was rather disappointed. The movie focuses mainly on his love affair with Pierre Bergé, his various addictions (including his preference for a "full bed" as he mentions several times) and his illness, rather than the making of dresses. There are a few scenes that give glimpses of his creative process.

The first one is toward the beginning of the film when he demonstrates to Monsieur Dior how he would slim out the waistline of a dress without actually taking it in, by draping a length of silk around the waist and down along the front of the dress. When he does this, all the characters in the scene seem to find the result quite beautiful. Unfortunately we don't get to see the whole dress, only the upper part, so the overall effect is lost on us.

In the second one, we see him tack swatches of colors to his pinboard : blues, reds, yellows. Inspiration hits and he pulls a book on Mondrian from a shelf. Then he starts drawing shift dresses with intersecting geometric lines, fills in the boxes with primary colors and these drawings materialize into the iconic Mondrian dresses. Wonderful!  
In truth, I have mixed feelings about the Mondrian dresses. Though they are visually striking, I don't like the idea of wearing a garment inspired by great art. It seems disrespectful. And gimmicky. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this scene as it did a very good job of conveying the creative process.

In the third scene, we see the ladies of the atelier draping beautiful silks on a model, and fabrics come to life before our eyes. It's wonderful to see them at work. We might suppose that Saint Laurent drew inspiration from such draping sessions, but the scene is not about creativity. Saint Laurent doesn't seem to care. The scene is intended to show his disconnect and how the demons in him are making it difficult for him to focus on his work. I really would have loved to see how these draping sessions fed into the creative process and how these propositions eventually became dresses.

At the end of the film, there is a runway show. It is the Russian collection : amazing embroidered gowns, layered with furs and jewels. A feast for the eyes! However, we learn nothing about how this collection came to be. The inspiration. The work in the atelier. These are the things I hope to learn about when I see a film about a designer. Sure he was troubled, but drawing was what he lived for.
When I see a movie about and artist, I hope to be inspired, and to me this one fell flat.

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