The Yves St. Laurent Retrospective is a dazzling display of more than 200 haute couture garments, along with photos, sketches and films that document the designer’s creative output. This huge, complex exhibit is a visual feast that gets better with each successive gallery. But the final piece holds the secret of his incredible 40-year career. After all the colors, intricate details and lavish fabrics it’s a small but profound symbol--a heart. In 1962 St. Laurent designed a jewelled heart brooch that he included in every runway show. He pinned it to his favorite garment of that season’s collection.
A passage in the guidebook from the YSL Retrospective at Petit Palais in Paris: “At the end of the vista gleams the Heart brooch, a talisman Yves Saint Laurent treasured and
which he put on a dress in every one of his parades, like a good luck charm.”
Yves St. Laurent was a passionate creator. He loved making clothes to celebrate women’s bodies. His was a magical combination of talent, genius and passion rarely seen in our world. I love hearing his creative story. Twice a year he travelled to his idyllic retreat in Morocco. There he was inspired to sketch his couture collections. He said he simply put his pen to the paper and the designs revealed themselves. What an amazing description of creative flow. And the secret? His work came from the heart.
Most of us won’t experience the serendipitous career that Yves St. Laurent enjoyed, yet we can practice putting more of ourselves into our creative output. I love Madeline Bruser’s book for musicians, The Art of Practicing. After teaching thorough warm-up exercises she gets to the crux of the matter. More than sharing yourself with a live audience in performance, it’s crucial to practice opening your heart in daily practice sessions.
She states, “Summoning your heart’s power is the final preparatory step before practicing.”
This practice isn’t just for musicians. Dancers, painters, all creatives will benefit from her heart-opening approach.
She goes on to say, “When we practice the heart is often obscured under multiple layers of mental and emotional preoccupations. We are distracted by countless judgements of ourselves and by random thoughts. We may feel anxious about getting the music ready to meet a deadline. We may resent having to practice, or we may be overly excited about practicing and dive in with insufficient sensitivity. These habitual mental and emotional states keep us from noticing the raw, sweet, unbearable tender feelings we have for music. We don’t need these habitual states of mind. We need access to the throbbing heart beneath them.”
Practice opening your heart. First quiet your mind and be present. Sit quietly and direct your focus to your heart. Ms. Bruser asks us to imagine losing a loved one in order to open the heart but accessing your heart doesn’t have to be painful. I believe it’s just as effective to visualize someone you love deeply. I think of my children and immediately my heart begins to swell and open. Now you will be open to share your creative gifts. Make this a part of your daily practice and it will be easier to call upon in performance. Your audience will feel your passion.