"If you want the dress to be not only a dress ... you need an artist," said Pierre Berge, Laurent's longtime partner and one of the people behind the retrospective which opened at San Francisco's de Young museum this month.

Golden Gate Park is home to the newly revamped De Young Museum. My design chum Charlotte Chen (Dysfunctional Bamboo.com) flew up from LA on Tuesday just so we could get a peek at the much-buzzed about Yves Saint Laurent Exhibit before it gets packed up and leaves The De Young in San Francisco. What a treat! I've long been familiar with Saint Laurent's Collections as back in the early eighties my mother got me the book, Yves Saint Laurent put out by The Metropolitan Museum of Art. However, till now I've never seen his pieces for real and up close. A few of the gowns in this collection designed since then were unfamiliar, like this great wedding gown below. Yes! This is indeed a wedding gown made up of silk florals.



My personal favorites were not the wedding gowns but cocktail garb. I fell in love with a black pantsuit (above) so beautifully tailored it had all the characteristics of soft sculpture; the other was an Audrey Hepburnesque little black cocktail dress with a black racer-back bodice and ruched skirt. What I found particularly touching was Saint Laurent clients like Comtesse De Ribes donated back to the collection a gorgeous Black pique embroidered evening gown.

1976 sketches with swatches
Overall the exhibit is a collection of 40 years of creation produced by Yves Saint Laurent Maison Haute Couture. Saint Laurent's claim to fame will always be his fusion of fashion with with pop culture, literature, and changing times. He found inspiration in everything from Wagner to Zizi Jeanmarie; Maria Callas to Mondrian. YSL is a one I could truly call a real Renaissance Man . . .

If you're lucky to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can still catch this show. It runs through April 5.