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Fashion Seasons in St Petersburg

  Fashion Seasons in St Petersburg 

 At the start of the 20th century people took note of Sergey Diaghilev’s Russian Seasons in Paris, which gave the world an understanding of the global, unsurpassed value of Russian culture. The idea of the project before us at the start of this new century is to highlight the connections between these different epochs, the bond of creative experience, the potentials for artistic heritage, the interaction of cultures, and to move in the direction of a single cultural space. 

At present the Fashion Seasons Cultural Foundation, together with the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berger Foundation, under the patronage of St Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko and the Embassy of France in Russia, and with support from the Government of St Petersburg and the Ministry of Culture and Mass Media, is actively carrying out preparatory work for a large-scale international project entitled Fashion Seasons in St Petersburg.

Starting this year, St Petersburg, which is one of the most brilliant cities in the world, will offer the artistic and historical space of its museums for implementation of the Fashion Seasons in St Petersburg project that unites different forms of art, styles and epochs. 

This is also a contribution to a whole range of values having a social character: culture, the upbringing of the younger generation, recognition of the merits and professionalism of people who have devoted their lives to culture and the arts.

The Fashion Seasons in St Petersburg project has been designed to reach an audience of many millions of people. It will be an important stage in the process of shaping the international image of Russia. 

In the summer of 2005 the halls of the State Hermitage, State Russian Museum, Catherine Palace of Tsarskoye Selo, and Yusupov Palace will be used to implement the first exhibition project. This is devoted to the art of the great 20th century couturier, Yves Saint Laurent. 

Under the direction of one of the most popular stage designers in France, Olivier Massart, a number of different exhibitions will be organized in the palace interiors of St Petersburg’s largest museums. Each will focus on a specific theme and, as a consequence, will have its own concept and artistic embodiment.

The planned project is organically bound together in the single historical and artistic space of high fashion in which the museum acts as the temple of art. Pierre Berger believes that the Fashion Seasons in St Petersburg project is unique and has nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

Love for Russia and Russian culture often inspired Yves Saint Laurent and has made it possible to carry out a grandiose exhibition project as well as the organization of a showing of the collection of evening dresses created by the great designer at various times in his professional career. The master couturier, a living legend and the idol of several generations, has shown exceptional attention to St Petersburg by making available more than 300 costumes for display. Several of these dresses will remain in Russia permanently and will be presented to the Hermitage as a donation from the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berger Foundation. 

The State Hermitage’s role in the Fashion Seasons in St Petersburg project is especially important. In accordance with the project’s basic intent, the museum’s very rich collections will be expanded through acquisition of costumes from the most famous designers of the 20th and 21st centuries. The result of this creative interaction will be the creation of a Costume Museum (Museum of the History of Costumes) built upon the State Hermitage collections.

The chairwoman of the Organizing Committee, St Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko, remarked in one of her interviews: "There can be no doubt that the Fashion Seasons in St Petersburg will be a major event in the cultural life of Petersburg."

One constituent element in the project is the campaign called Curators of Beauty, which will be devoted to the selfless work of museum employees and restorers who defend and protect the beauty of this great city. The President of the Fashion Seasons Foundation, N.I. Zhuravleva, commented on the importance of this campaign as follows: "Only thanks to their feats during the war years do we have the opportunity today to implement projects like this. The starting date of the project is not an arbitrary one. In this Anniversary Year of the Victory in WWII we want to celebrate the history of the great spirit and the civic and professional feats of those who paid the price of great personal sacrifice and deprivation to save our cultural treasures, which are the birthright of not only our country but also of the whole world community."

St Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko will perform a historic first when she gives out special tokens of recognition called Guardian Angels to museum employees and restorers who performed feats of civic achievement during the war years and postwar years to preserve and restore the national pride of Russia – the palaces of St Petersburg. A golden sculpture of the Guardian Angel will be made by master jewelers of the company Smolensk Diamonds Ltd.

The Fashion Seasons in St Petersburg project is an international cultural studies project which, according to current plans, will be carried out every year in St Petersburg with participation by world-renowned houses of fashion. The project is financed by private sponsors and benefactors of the arts.

See also: Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Art
Louvre Museum, Paris
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum of Modern Art, New York
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

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