5 Feb 2020
The Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris is to place a spotlight on muse Betty Catroux, a fashion icon described as Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘female double’ for its 2020 special exhibition.
Running from March 3 until October 11, the ‘Betty Catroux, Yves Saint Laurent, Feminine Singular’ showcase will mark the first time that the museum has given Saint Laurent creative director Anthony Vaccarello carte blanche for the exhibition, as the designer is the guest curator.
The exhibition will feature pieces donated by Betty Catroux to the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, the largest it has ever received, which included 180 haute couture pieces, many of which were runway prototypes, as well as 138 pieces that Yves Saint Laurent designed for his ready-to-wear line Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and a collection of shoes, handbags, and jewellery.
Vaccarello has selected around 50 designs that he states showcases the extent in 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 fell in love with Catroux’s androgynous look and the pieces on display will reflect her “unique personality and ongoing influence on the label’s signature style” alongside original documents and photographs taken by the likes of Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Steven Meisel and Jeanloup Sieff.
“She lives and breathes Saint Laurent,” explained Vaccarello in a statement. “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.”
The exhibition will also recount the full history of the signature ‘Saint Laurent style’, which gained prominence in the 1960s, and a concept that 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.
“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,” said Betty Catroux, in 2014.
The exhibition has been organised by the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris In partnership with Saint Laurent.
‘Betty Catroux, Yves Saint Laurent, Feminine Singular’ will run from March 3 - October 11 at Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris.
Photo: Johanna Hoelzl / DPA / dpa Picture-Alliance