“La mode passe, le style reste” – Yves Saint Laurent
On August 1st, Yves Saint Laurent would have turned 80. It is thus the perfect time to get to know the late designer a little more.
Here are 10 facts you (maybe) didn’t know about Yves Saint Laurent!
1. Yves Saint Laurent was born on August 1st, 1936 in Oran, Algeria. He passed away at his Paris home on June 1st 2008, after a long period of ill health. He was 71. As a mark of respect, all YSL stores in the world closed their doors for the duration of his funeral [1,2,3].
2. Yves Saint Laurent left Algeria for Paris when he was 17. There, he showed his drawings to Michel de Brunhoff who published several of them immediately in French Vogue. Saint Laurent was introduced to Christian Dior and worked there until 1957 (until Dior’s death). At 21, he YSL was the head of designer of the House of Dior. He launched his first collection that year, the Ligne Trapèze, which was an immense success. For that, he won a Neiman Marcus Oscar. In 1960, he was dismissed by the House of Dior [2,3,4,5,6,7].
3. In 1962, Yves Saint Laurent, in association with Pierre Bergé, created his own couture house. He presented his first collection on January 29th in Paris. In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Bergé and Didier Grumbach founded Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, a ready-to-wear brand. In 1998, he showed his last collection for this label, but carried on his haute couture.
4. Saint Laurent officially retired in November 2002. He announced his retirement on January of that year. He organized a huge show at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, in front of 2000 privileged guests. The retrospective featured 100 models who paraded 40 new couture gowns and hundreds of past masterpieces. Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Jerry Hall, and Carla Bruni were there. Catherine Deneuve, his muse, sang Ma Plus Belle Histoire d’Amour, c’est Vous [2,9,10, 11]. A year ago, his return to couture was confirmed .
5. Yves Saint Laurent had a lot of muses during his career: Gamma Keystone, Kouka, Zizi Jeanmaire, Lee Radziwill Loulou de la Falaise, Betty Catroux, Victoire Doutreleau, Laëtitia Casta, Marisa Berenson, Paloma Picasso (the youngest daughter of Pablo Picasso!), Catherine Deneuve, … [13,14,15,16,17,18]
One of YSL bag is called the Muse too 😉 
6. In 1966, Yves Saint Laurent designed his first tuxedo. It became one of his key pieces. It was also revolutionary. Indeed, before only men were “allowed” to wear pants to official occasions. It thus became a symbol of women’s emancipation. Catherine Deneuve was the first woman to wear it, in 1967. In 2006, an exhibition is even dedicated to this specific piece, “Smoking Forever” [19,20,21].
7. Another iconic piece designed by Yves Saint Laurent is the Mondrian dress that combined fashion and art. The dress was displayed in the autumn-winter collection in 1965. The dress showed a break from other houses because it displayed a straight cut, while the other brands still proposed form-fitting dresses [24,25,26,27]. His other inventions include the reefer jacket (1962), the sheer blouse (1966), and the jumpsuit (1968) .
8. Designers who succeeded Yves Saint Laurent include: Alber Elbaz, Tom Ford in 1999, followed by Stefano Pilati in 2004, and Hedi Slimane in 2012. The latter was replaced by Anthony Vaccarello in April this year [2,28,29,30].
9. “Pierre Bergé was born on November 14th 1930 on the Island of Oléron in France. He met Yves Saint Laurent in 1958, with whom he founded the Yves Saint Laurent Couture House in 1961 and which he directed until 2002. In 2014, Pierre Bergé plans the opening of two museums dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent’s work“. These museums located in Paris and Marrakech will open in 2017 [31,32].
10. Two movies came out about the life of Yves Saint Laurent. One directed by Jalil Lespert, featuring Pierre Niney, was backed by Pierre Bergé. The other one, directed by Bertrand Bonello and featuring Gaspard Ulliel, did not have Bergé’s endorsement (but did have Pinault’s support, head of Kering – the conglomerate that owns Saint Laurent) [33,34]. Both actors were nominated for the César, and Pierre Niney won the award. (I saw and loved both movies!)
I remember that a couple of years ago, there was an exhibition in Brussels about YSL. I missed it. Writing this article made me realize I’m still not over it!
Plein de bisous,