New York

Yves Saint Laurent

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Like so many who have come to be identified with arch-sophistication, Yves Saint Laurent is not only French but a true provincial, born and raised in what was still the colony of Algeria. It may not seem surprising that one who left a sunny tropic full of shopkeepers for the city of lights and shopkeepers should wish to shield himself from the pecuniary side of things. The decades of publicity preceding this exhibition, however, and the literature accompanying it, including “A Collage of Inspiration,” written and graphically orchestrated for the catalogue by Saint Laurent’s business partner Pierre Bergé, would have us accept the eponymous YSL as the spiritual leader of an empire of merchandise.

The man who may accurately claim to have been the first to reconcile the pantsuit with the maitre d’ is also quite stuck on ruffles. See-through blouses and peek-a-boo bottoms were soon followed by

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