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Saint Laurent, Bergé Create Museum From Headquarters

PARIS — Yves Saint Laurent’s legacy is being prepared for posterity. <br><br>The fabled couturier, who retired in January, and his industrious business partner, Pierre Bergé, will transform their 5 Avenue Marceau headquarters into a...

PARIS — Yves Saint Laurent’s legacy is being prepared for posterity.

This story first appeared in the November 8, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The fabled couturier, who retired in January, and his industrious business partner, Pierre Bergé, will transform their 5 Avenue Marceau headquarters into a foundation that will house a Saint Laurent museum and sponsor cultural activities.

The 18,000-square-foot Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé Foundation will open within the next year, according to Bergé. It will replace the existing 9,000-square-foot YSL museum in northern Paris, which will close.

About 5,000 dresses, more than 15,000 accessories and a myriad of house archives — including innumerable sketches — will comprise the base of the museum’s collection.

Bergé said that his and Saint Laurent’s extensive art collections would be left to the foundation in the event of either of their deaths.

The project has been in the works for some time, said Bergé, who noted that various ministries in the French government had agreed to grant the foundation a tax-free cultural status.

“It’s the next chapter of the saga,” said Bergé in an interview in his office at the headquarters, on the Right Bank. “Yves and I want the foundation to be very lively. It will have a fashion component to it, but it will not only be about fashion.”

Bergé noted that the first exhibition organized would most definitely be devoted to Saint Laurent. “It could be something of the order of Saint Laurent and art, for example,” he said. “There could be art exhibitions, there could be music concerts. The possibilities are endless.”

Bergé said negotiations are under way to buy the building, which Saint Laurent and he currently rent, from the French insurance company AGF.

Saint Laurent and Bergé also intend to grant financial aid to young designers and artists. “For instance, we could invite a young fashion designer to show his collection at 5 Avenue Marceau,” explained Bergé.

Renovations to the building will guard the Saint Laurent spirit. The gilded first-floor couture salons will remain intact and will be used for exhibitions.

Visits to the second floor will interest those curious to see a piece of fashion history: Saint Laurent’s office and adjacent workroom, where his many iconic creations were conceived and executed.

The third-floor workrooms and the fourth-floor in-house restaurant will be converted into storage for Saint Laurent’s archives.

Meanwhile, Bergé said he is ready to inaugurate his auction house, Pierre Bergé & Associates, which will open within the next weeks on Rue Drouot, near the Drouot auction house and antique-dealing neighborhood.

His first auction will be Dec. 10. Bergé also has a book about famous personalities he has known, to be published in January. It is titled “Les Jours S’en Vont Je Demeure,” after a line in the “Le Pont Mirabeau,” a poem by Guillaume Apollinaire. The title translates roughly to “Time goes on, I remain.”

“The thing about life is that you always have to keep moving forward,” said Bergé, a hint of nostalgia in his voice as he walked through the now-vacant house. “I’m going to Marrakesh to join Yves. I’m going to stay four days. I don’t have the time to stay longer — not yet.”