To A Legend and His Legacy…

“We must never confuse elegance with snobbery.” – Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent died yesterday in his home in Paris of a long-term illness at the age of 71.

Born on the 1st of August 1936, in what was then French Algeria, Yves Saint Laurent entered the world of Fashion as a 17 year old working for Christian Dior, after winning first prize in a contest for a cocktail dress design. Following Dior’s death in 1957 he was put in charge of saving the House of Dior from potential ruin at the young age of 22. Shortly after his success, he was conscripted to serve in the French army during the Algerian War of Independence. After 20 days, the stress of being hazed by fellow soldiers led the fragile Saint Laurent to be institutionalized in a French mental hospital, where he underwent psychiatric treatment for a nervous breakdown. In 1962, in the wake of his nervous breakdown, Saint Laurent was released from Dior and started his own haute couture fashion house, YSL, financed by his companion, Pierre Bergé. The couple split romantically in 1976 but remained business partners.

“Chanel gave women freedom and Saint Laurent gave them power,” – Bergé

YSL’s signature “le Smoking” tuxedo suit for women revolutionized the female wardrobe and empowered women by giving them the option to wear clothes that were normally worn by men with influence and power. He was the first, in 1966, to popularize ready-to-wear, with the label and boutique Rive Gauche, in an attempt to democratize fashion which until such time was reserved for the social elite. He was also the first designer to use black models in his runway shows.

In his own words, Saint Laurent said he felt “fashion was not only supposed to make women beautiful, but to reassure them, to give them confidence, to allow them to come to terms with themselves.”

Some of his revolutionary style was met with resistance. There are famous stories of women wearing Saint Laurent pantsuits who were turned away from hotels and restaurants in London and New York.

Saint Laurent’s rising star was eternalized in 1983, when the Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted a show to his work, the first ever to a living designer.

In 1999, Saint Laurent sold the rights of his label to Gucci Group NV, ceding control of his Rive Gauche collection, fragrances, cosmetics and accessories for US$70 million cash and royalties.

When he bowed out of fashion in 2002, Saint Laurent spoke of his battles with depression, drugs and loneliness, though he gave no indication that those problems were directly tied to his decision to stop working.

“I’ve known fear and terrible solitude,” he said. “Tranquilizers and drugs, those phony friends. The prison of depression and hospitals. I’ve emerged from all this, dazzled but sober.”



~ by Dilruha on June 2, 2008.

2 Responses to “To A Legend and His Legacy…”

  1. Oh dear… feeling quite sad about it. “Pleasures” is one of my favourite perfumes… Thanks for the bio, was a very interesting read.

  2. I like your blog Saffron. I hope you don’t mind some constructive criticism? The font — because the background is black — needs to be a tad bit more bigger. If you make the reading process easier you will find that more readers will interact and stay longer. You may also want to divert from black to another theme. The most successful blogs have a white background which is easier on the eyes. I understand your blog consists mostly of photos, and a background looks cool on a photo blog. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: