Sunday 9 August 2015

A Genius In His Field - YSL Style Is Eternal At The Bowes Museum

Have you ever had one of those days where you could just kick yourself for being such an idiot? Well Wednesday was one of those days for me! A couple of months ago now advanced tickets went on sale for a fashion exhibition at one of my favourite places, The Bowes Museum, in the historic Co Durham, market town of Barnard Castle.

I've been to quite a few fashion and design exhibitions at the museum over the years but this one was something just a little bit out of the ordinary. The museum was to be the first venue, ever, in the UK to host a retrospective of one of the greatest, and most iconic fashion designers in history, Yves Saint Laurent.

Thanks to the Durham County Council, and a host of private investors including Fenwick of Newcastle, The Bowes Museum is able to host an exhibition of Yves Saint Laurent's design work, couture, costumes, and ready to wear fashion pieces, ranging from 1958 - 2000, entitled YSL Style Is Eternal.

To avoid major foot stamping and disappointment, we worked out the best dates and I booked tickets online on the day of release for me and Mummy Lou. After seeing both the press pictures and pics snapped by some of my fellow bloggers, my excitement grew, and grew and eventually the day came, and last Wednesday, we got in the car and headed south.

Our reserved slot didn't start till 1pm so we had a little look around the town (note all the YSL banners), and then we had a spot of lunch in Costa, before heading to the museum for 12.45. I have to say I've never seen the car parks so busy, and once we got inside the queue for tickets was huge, so I was really grateful that we booked and printed off our tickets in advance.

We took the lift to the second floor, and the fashion and textile gallery and then my stomach sank! As I reached into my huge bag for my camera, I realised that the ancient compact camera that I'd brought with me had broken on route :( I'd already left my SLR at home over weight concerns so it was my own fault really but I still didn't stop me being annoyed!  I was left with no other option than to take photographs with my ancient iPhone 4S. I'm therefore going to apologise for the quality of some of the pictures in this post not being up to my usual standard but I hope you enjoy anyways. I took about 100 photos but these are just some of my favourites x

The exhibition not only features glamorous and intricate, and hand beaded pieces but it also featured something that Yves Saint Laurent was so famous for, tailoring and his masculine / feminine designs. From sharp pinstripe suits, to a beautifully tailored tuxedo dress, and a jumpsuit, he really was a master when it came to pattern cutting, and creating sharp lines and structure

As well as all the pretty dresses, and examples of his couture work, the exhibit  also featured hand drawn designs, videos of catwalk shows and the great man at work, sample pieces, trimmings, and original photographs.

One of the most striking photographs in the exhibition was this one of 1960's supermodel Veruschka wearing this safari ensemble from 1968.

Not only could you see the original photographs but you could also see the clothing pieces themselves. Some of the more expensive and fragile pieces, and obviously the art and design pieces were displaced in glass cases, but unusually a lot of the pieces were just displayed on mannequins so you could get right up close and have a really good look at everything  from the buttons and beads to the tiny, tiny stitches.

I have to say we both left completely in awe with the design and the workmanship that had gone into every single piece. Some of the beaded pieces especially, were true works of art and not only show Yves Saint Laurent's talent as an artist but they also show how he was inspired by artists such as Mondrian, Picasso and Van Gough.

I've filmed a little vlog on my iPhone, which will hopefully allow you to see some better shots of some of the more intricate and eye catching pieces. If you're on a mobile you can find it here x

Whether you're into fashion or art, or you just want to see something will make you go wow, this exhibition is well worth a visit, whether you're a north east native or you fancy taking a trip north or south to the beautiful Co Durham countryside.

We booked our tickets via Ticketmaster but you can pay on the day, if you're prepared to wait and queue. As well as Style Is Eternal admission tickets also grant you access to the rest of the museum, which includes numerous temporary and permanent exhibitions including paintings from Canaletto and Goya, porcelain from Sevres and Meissen, antique furniture and of course the famous, musical automaton Silver Swan. If you're interested YSL Style Is Eternal runs until 25th October 2015, so you've got plenty of time to plan your trip, and we'll already planning a return visit but this time with my Godmother in tow x If you want to find out more about the exhibition and the museum, you can find their website here x  Thanks for reading x


  1. Love this! I've been twice, once to review and once as a paying customer and I'm going back to do the fashion illustration course! Can't get enough of it!!! Which was your favourite piece? Mine was the shawl with the pink birds but I loved the smoking tuxedos too! Nice write up and such a shame about your camera!!!

    Kay x

    1. Thanks Kayleigh x I absolutely loved it x It's so hard to chose but I loved all of the tuexedo pieces and all of the beaded pieces x My mum loves the velvet jacket with the eyes on and the beaded jackets in the glass cases x I will definitely be going back x


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