"Fashion fades; style is eternal" - Yves Saint Laurent.
Today an exciting brown paper parcel landed on the studio doorstep, sea freight from across the globe- the UK. Inside were postcards and books from the 'Style is Eternal' exhibition that was held earlier this year - a retrospective on Yves Saint Laurent, the first of it's kind to be held outside of France.
He called the Bowes a natural home for the show, given its exceptional collection and exhibition record with fashion and textiles. “The museum and its location also clearly reflect Yves Saint Laurent’s and my own passion for inspiring, timeless places. It is the perfect setting for us – a museum built as a French chateau in the age of the Second Empire.”
The museum was the legacy of John and Joséphine Bowes, a couple as exotic as their creation. He was the child of the 10th Earl of Strathmore, he became rich on the coal on his Teesdale land, and married a beautiful actor, Joséphine Coffin-Chevalier, after meeting her in a theatre he owned in Paris. Together they planned a museum to bring the arts of the world to the people of Durham and, although the building was completed only after their deaths, they left a collection of 15,000 objects to fill it, including paintings by El Greco, Canaletto and Goya, Sèvres porcelain and the Silver Swan, a lifesize, 18th-century automaton that is still set working every day.
Saint Laurent’s work was often hailed as crossing the boundary between fashion and art, and was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum in New York as early as 1983. Born in Algeria in 1936, he was chosen by another legendary designer, Christian Dior, as his successor. Dior then died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 1957, leaving the 21-year-old as the head of a major fashion house. He launched his own fashion house with Bergé in 1962, and a ready-to-wear boutique in 1966. He retired in 2002 and died in 2008.