There are two designers who influence our fashion and our lives like no other: Coco Chanel and Yves Henri Donat Mathieu Saint-Laurent, called Yves Saint Laurent. While Coco freed woman from the corset, Yves Saint Laurent emancipated fashion and led them into a new era. The sensitive designer with the distinctive glasses, was genius and revolutionary. He knew like no other how to connect fashion and art.
A sensitive genius conquered Paris
Born and raised in 1936 in Algeria Saint Laurent presented three designs at a fashion competition of the International Wool Secretariat (IWS) and ranked third. 1954 he started an apprenticeship as a fashion and stage artist designer at the Fashion Institute Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture of Paris Fashion Association. The same year he submitted a further draft for the IWS Competition and placed first.
At the same time, Karl Lagerfeld won the highest award in the “coat” category. Initially friends, a great rivalry developed between Saint Laurent and Lagerfeld. Saint Laurent started to work for Christian Dior and was promoted to art director at the age of 21. At a dinner with the French fashion journalist Marie-Louise Bousquet in 1958 he met his future life and business partner Pierre Bergé.
Saint Laurent was supposed to get conscripted during the Algerian war in 1960, but suffered from a nervous breakdown before leaving. He was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Val-de-Grâce and treated with electric shocks and sedatives. The reason for his lifelong addiction. The fashion house Dior used this circumstance and released him from the current contract. Only Pierre Bergé backed up his life partner and did everything possible for his release from the psychiatric clinic. They sued Dior and received $ 100,000 compensation. The initial capital for Saint Laurent’s independence. He founded the Yves Saint Laurent Couture company with ab American businessman.
1976 Saint Laurent and Bergé separated, but remained on friendly terms. Bergé assisted him all one´s life as his health increasingly deteriorated. Saint Laurent was plagued by anxiety, depression and drug side effects. Ups and downs alternated constantly and he fled repeatedly into alcohol and drugs. 2002, he finally retired from the fashion industry. Saint Laurent lived isolated in the Villa Majorelle in Marrakesh or alternately in his Paris apartment and the Château Gabriel in Deauville. After Saint Laurent was diagnosed with a brain tumor, he and Pierre Bergé sealed their lifelong bond with a formal marriage. Yves Saint Laurent died 2008 in Paris.
Yves Saint Laurent, the revolutionary women loved
His creative work seemed inexhaustible and set new standards. Already 1958 he designed a collection of trapeze-line for Dior and with that liberated women from the wasp waist. He rejuvenated the collection and created the “Op-Art” style. His first collection he kept exclusively black, but already the following year he presented striking colors again. He often let inspire himself by art, so he created dresses which are similar to images of Mondrian, Picasso and van Gogh. He was the first fashion designer working with transparent materials (nude look). In the 70’s he made the jumpsuit popular and invented the trouser suit for women. He sent Naomi Campbell as the first black model onto the catwalk.
Opium, the fragant drug
1977 Saint Laurent brought the perfume Opium on the market. The launch provoked a scandal, since his critics saw it as a vow for drugs. Opium symbolized for Saint Laurent’s his fascination for the Orient, a tribute to the mystical femininity and passion. The bottle was inspired by a Chinese snuffbox. The fragrance combined spicy notes with mandarin and vanilla.
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