07 August, 2018

The Story of Yves Saint Laurent

Fashion houses have some of the most fascinating stories. Their legacies are absolute and contain every emotion imaginable on their journey to becoming what they are today.

Yves Saint Laurent is no different. At the age of 21, his world changed when he replaced a visionary and became one himself. 

Join us as we explore the history of Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent - The Prodigy

Displaying the necessary skills to become a great designer, Yves won an international award in wool secretariat design in 1953. This award caught the attention of Michel de Brunhoff who introduced Yves to Christian Dior in 1955.

Trivia - Yves became the apprentice of Christian Dior.

Dior died in 1957 and this sent shockwaves through the fashion world over his replacement. The Maison of Dior named Yves as the replacement and at 21, Yves became the lead designer of Dior.

Originally, Yves was interning at the Maison of Dior and provided sketches for collections. His first collection resulted in positive reviews and one of its standout pieces was the Trapeze dress.

Yves and The French Army

Yves received his enlistment papers to join the French Army in 1960. After suffering a near-nervous-breakdown, the army referred him to an army hospital where he recovered.  

Dismissal from Dior 

At this time, Dior released him over creative differences. Yves' lawyers responded with legal action and Yves won a payout for breach of contract. 

YSL is Born

The payout turned into capital to launch a new label under his name with Pierre Berge in 1961. Together, Yves would be the chief designer and Pierre would manage the day-to-day running of the Maison of Yves Saint Laurent or YSL.

The first collection of YSL debuted in 1962 and Royalty attended - literally. For example, notable guests included Princess Anne, The Countess of Paris, Françoise Sagan and figures in the fashion industry.  

The fashion world responded with positive reviews and compared Yves to Chanel. Noted columnist Diana Vreeland called Yves a genius. His collection freed women restrained by silhouettes and hidden with layers of clothing.

Famous Collections From Yves Saint Laurent

Take a look at some of the most famous collections from the Maison of YSL.

YSL Mondrian collection

Inspired by the abstract paintings of Piet Mondrian, Yves designed a collection of innovative dresses. Consisting of intersecting black stripes and blocks of colour, it became known as the Mondrian Collection. 

Trivia - This caught the attention of Vogue who placed it on the front cover of their September issue in 1965. 

YSL Liberation collection

This collection was one of YSL's most controversial because it caused a scandal. Yves designed tuxedos for women (called 'Le Smoking') which embodied defiance.

The collection symbolised women becoming man's adversary.  

Trivia - He created other hits such as the sheer blouse, the jumpsuit and ventured into ready to wear (pret-a-porter).

1940's Collection

In 1971 - a big year for Yves. His 1940s collection made animal activists run dry of ink.

Trivia - He launched his first male perfume (pour homme) and posed nude for his friend, Jean-Loup Sieff.

Yves Saint Laurent - The Man, The Legend

In 1983, Yves Saint Laurent became a part of museum history when he became a living designer to have an exhibition at the New York Metropolitan Museum.

Trivia - Diana Vreeland curated the exhibition.

Final Words

The story of Yves and the label carrying his name is full of emotions of triumph, success and sadness. In 4 years, he went from aspiring designer to the creative director of Dior. 

When he launched his own label, he sought the help of his friend Pierre and together, they revolutionised fashion.

After going public in 1989, they received a valuation of $500 million. Francois Pinault bought YSL for $1bn in 1999 and YSL became part of the international luxury group, Kering.

In 2002, they celebrated 40 years as a fashion house with the release of a special edition 'Opium' Fragrance. 

Yves died of a brain tumour in 2008 and Anthony Vaccarello succeeded him. Anthony is a master of tailoring techniques and regarded as bearing strong resemblances to the soul of Yves Saint Laurent.

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Luxury Fashion House Spotlight - Yves Saint Laurent
Luxury Fashion House Spotlight - Yves Saint Laurent
Luxury Fashion House Spotlight - Yves Saint Laurent
Luxury Fashion House Spotlight - Yves Saint Laurent
Luxury Fashion House Spotlight - Yves Saint Laurent