The show will feature pieces from a major donation that Catroux has made to the Fondation Pierre Bergé — Yves Saint Laurent, the largest it has ever received, with 180 haute couture pieces, 138 pieces of ready-to-wear and a collection of accessories.
For the first time, Madison Cox, president of the institution, is giving Saint Laurent creative director Anthony Vaccarello carte blanche for the exhibition, organized in partnership with the French fashion house, which is now owned by luxury group Kering.
Often described as Saint Laurent’s “female double,” Catroux, with her skinny frame, poker straight hair and androgynous allure, has long personified the designer’s “le smoking.” She has remained a constant presence at Saint Laurent runway shows through the decades, and Vaccarello chose her to star in his fall 2018 campaign.
“She lives and breathes Saint Laurent. 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 designer said in a statement.
Saint Laurent told WWD in 1968, a year after meeting Catroux: “She’s perfect in my clothes. Just what I like. Long, long, long.”
At the time, her look stood in stark contrast to the bourgeois-style still in vogue in Paris in the late Sixties. “I’ve always dressed like a man and done things my own way. I’m the exact opposite of the bourgeoise,” Catroux told WWD recently.
“Betty Catroux, Yves Saint Laurent, Feminine Singular,” set to run from March 3 to Oct. 11, will feature some 50 designs selected by Vaccarello to reflect her personality and ongoing influence of the label’s style, with signature designs such as the safari jacket, the jumpsuit, the trenchcoat, the pantsuit and the tuxedo.
The exhibition will also include personal photos and original documents, alongside photographs by the likes of Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Steven Meisel and Jeanloup Sieff.