Hot DAM: Denver Art Museum Is on Fire

© Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, Paris / Photo A. Guirkinger.

Wandering wide-eyed through the Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective at the Denver Art Museum I wondered, what did we wear before YSL? This was a 3-D stroll through the fashion pages of my life: sleek flat-knits, the pantsuit with that blouse with the bow at the neck, the pea coat -- all turning through my memory like a flip book.

When Yves Saint Laurent took his seam ripper to the nipped Dior waistline, he unleashed the power of the modern woman and seems to have designed her wardrobe for the past 50 years. The words 'jumpsuit, pantsuit, safari look and bolero jacket' were rarely heard before the genius of the YSL moment, and never to describe fashion. Influenced by global culture, Saint Laurent drew his inspiration from the arts and artists, from operas, literary figures, personal muses and "aesthetic ghosts;" he has woven time into the timeless.

The exhibition is stunning and fits the Hamilton Building like a tuxedo trouser on Loulou de la Falaise. Laurent's work is massive, his genius, revealing, uplifting, and whirling you through time on an intimate flight of fantasy. Drama, drape and texture delight. Beading and design dazzle, and the sumptuous lighting brings it all to life in vivid YSL color. One gallery is filled with outfits as iconic as the women who wore them -- Vreeland, Bacall, Nan Kemper, Princess Grace -- the celestial A-list of an era, giving you context for the power of the YSL name. Another replicates the dressing room and Catherine Deneuve's wardrobe from Belle du Jour, a signature look that is distinctive of the modern French women. One wall is black from floor to ceiling with a riveting display of variations on the tux theme, its mirror gallery evokes a red-carpet night at the Paris Opera. The effect throughout is one of magic and surprise; a captivating look at fashion as high art, and the expression of a true original... just like the women who wore him.

Another woman of distinction struts into town as Read My Pins: The Madeline Albright Collection opens to the public on April 15. Far more than a stash of campaign buttons and flag pins, the personal collection of Secretary Albright reveals the language of diplomacy, the shape of history, and the story of democracy told through the power of jewels.

Denver finery will surely be on display for two nights of DAM Uncorked, the art museum's annual fundraising fete. There are still some tickets available for Friday night's sampling of more than 300 wines from internationally recognized vintners. This is the classiest wine tasting event of the year, with hors d'oeuvres by the celebrated chef, Kevin Taylor, music and a fantastic array of silent auction items. Saturday night's dinner and live auction honors the Duncan Family and features the inclusion of the Salon du Musee. Founded by Natalie Rekstad-Lynn, Salon du Musee, benefits the museum's acquisitions fund through the sale of selected artworks by artists associated with the DAM and sought after my museum fans and collectors.