Yves St. Laurent & the Brown Palace: A Weekend of Luxury in Denver, Colorado

Denver Art Museum sign on lamp post
This is the only United States venue for this exhibit that is on display through July 8, 2012. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

My husband and I just celebrated 10 years of marriage in style. We spent a high-end Denver weekend with a trip to the Yves St. Laurent exhibit at the Denver Art Museum and a stay at the Brown Palace Hotel.

Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective at the Denver Art Museum

I sport a rather laidback Colorado style, so folks may be surprised that as a little girl I filled binders with clothing designs; everything from medieval princess dresses to ready-to-wear business suits.

By the time I entered my teenage years, grunge had become popular and living in the Pacific Northwest, I was at the epicenter of the flannel and ripped jeans trend. I bought my first pair of Birkenstocks and didn’t look back.

I never lost my love of haute couture, however, and you can often catch me watching shows like “America’s Next Top Model” and “Project Runway,” albeit wearing a comfy pair of flannel pants and a t-shirt.

When I heard the Yves St. Laurent exhibit was coming to the Denver Art Museum, I had to see it. Thankfully, my husband is an artist and will always happily tag along to any art-oriented event that I want to attend.

We visited the exhibit on a Saturday and it was packed with well-dressed women. We counted exactly four men in the crowded lobby. That being said, while my husband’s response to my ooohs and awwws throughout the exhibit was always “that’s cute,” he actually found St. Laurent’s story inspirational from an art perspective.

On busy days you may have a wait because they stagger entry times into the exhibit. Our wait was less than ten minutes, and I was happy to see that the museum staff was handing out portable tour guides. I’ve only seen these useful devices at large English museums. They look like one of those huge, old cell phones from the eighties. Each is equipped with a key pad and when you punch in the numbers corresponding with the various exhibits a nice voice tells you all about it – no reading required. It makes for a very quiet trip through the exhibit, despite the crowds.

Yves Saint Laurent- The Retrospective curated by Florence Muller,Pierre Berge
Installation view of Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective at the Denver Art Museum.

St. Yves Laurent was an influential clothing designer who lived from 1936 to 2008. He came to prominence in the French fashion world in the early 1960s, and started making waves right away. He was the first designer to introduce leather on the runway, shocking, not nearly as scandalous as his biggest contribution to the fashion world, the ladies pantsuit.

There was even a saying at the time: “If it’s pants, it’s Yves.”

Yves Saint Laurent_ Tuxedo with pants
Yves Saint Laurent, Tuxedo with pants, haute couture collection, Fall-Winter 1966. Black barathea and satin silk, white organdy blouse. © Foundation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, Paris / Photo A. Guirkinger.

Walking through the exhibit one experiences St. Laurent’s evolution as a designer, although he never moved away from putting women in designs that had been previously cut for men, like square shoulders. It’s also a walk through pop culture history.

St. Laurent is credited with being the first French clothing designer to develop an entire ready-to-wear line. He was quoted as saying, “Down with the Ritz, up with the streets!” referring to his clothing line for the everyday woman.

If you enjoy art, fashion and history, you should see Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective at the Denver Art Museum. This is the only United States venue for this exhibit that is on display through July 8, 2012. During the last 10 days of the exhibit, the museum will have extended hours. To learn more and purchase tickets go to DenverArtMuseum.org.

Brown Palace Hotel & Spa

Bright and sparkly new hotels are fine, but historic hotels have always been my favorite. They are steeped in history, and none more than the Brown Palace in Denver, Colorado. Nearly every President has stayed at the hotel since Roosevelt, and stories from this place could fill a book, and probably do.

tea at the Brown Palace
Afternoon tea at the Brown Palace in Denver, Colorado. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer, all rights reserved.

A stay at the Brown Palace isn’t cheap, but you get what you pay for and more. You are treated like an honored guest from the moment they hand you champagne at the front desk. Everyone is genuinely nice without being pretentious – this is, after all, Colorado.

We’ve stayed at the Brown Palace a number of times, including on our wedding night, so it has a special place in our hearts. We always have a drink at Ship’s Tavern and sometimes indulge in breakfast at Ellington’s.

The rooms are comfortable with historic touches combined with modern conveniences like flat screen televisions. I would encourage you to check out the “specials and packages“ section on their website. I always book one of these options.

Currently, you can reserve the Designer Package which gets you two VIP passes to the Yves St. Laurent exhibit, plus a delicious chocolate surprise in your room. Visit the hotel online at BrownPalace.com.




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