“We must never confuse elegance with snobbery.” – Yves Saint Laurent
Know as one of the most important names in the fashion industry, French designer Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent was never afraid to push the limit. He started off with an interest in fashion at an early age. Laurent entered and won a fashion designs contest in 1953 called the International Wool Secretariat. After attending the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, his talents opened up a whole new world. He once again entered the competition and won for the second time, beating out follow designer Karl Lagerfeld. Laurent was then introduced to Christian Dior by French Vogue editor Michel De Brunoff. He was hired for Dior the same day. After the death of Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent succeed the designer and became the head designer for the House of Christian Dior S.A. in 1957. The next year, Laurent launched his spring 1958 collection to rave reviews, even being know as the creator of the “trapeze dress.” Farah Diba, the wife of the Shah of Iran, asked Laurent to design her wedding gown in 1959. The next year, Laurent joined the French Army. During this time, he was fired from Dior and suffered medical and mental health problems. After being released from the Army hospital the same year, he sued Dior and won the case. Laurent and then partner, Pierre Bergé, started their own fashion house. It was then that Laurent changed the fashion world. He is said to be the first to introduce a women’s tuxedo suit. This happened in 1966, called Le Smoking. Laurent’s brand starting popularizing styles like safari jackets for men and women along with the beatnik look, wearing silhouettes, and thigh-high boots. He is also said to be the first to launch a ready-wear line. He is well-known for his use of non-white models such as supermodel Iman. In 1983 he was honored at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But starting n the 1960s and 70s, Laurent received criticism for becoming known for partying, drinking, and the use of cocaine. The pressure to creating two per year lines of ready-to-wear collections and haute couture ones brought down Laurent’s health and led to him turning over his lines to his assistants in 1987. French president Jacques Chirac gave Laurent the rank of Commander of the Légion d’Honneur in 2001. He retired in 2002. In 2007, French president Nicolas Sarkozy awarded Laurent with the title Grand Officier de la Légion d’honneur. Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008 from brain cancer. His ashes were spread in Marrakech, Morocco. An auction of famous paintings collected over by Laurent over the years took place in 2009 and the proceeds went to AIDS research. Laurent was a main focus for a number of films, including the 2014 release of the film Yves Saint Laurent, directed by Jalil Lespert; the part of Laurent is played by French actor Pierre Niney. Even through hard times and controversy, Yves Saint Laurent’s works are still being used in the fashion industry today and he is known as a great fashion name.
Credit: Yves Saint Laurent