All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Yves Saint Laurent, who died aged 71 was regarded as the greatest figure in French fashion in the 20th century, and could be said to have created the modern woman’s wardrobe.
Saint Laurent was born in Oran, in French Algeria.
Unfortunately had a troubled childhood. During his time spent in school he was frequently beaten up by the other boys for his obvious homosexual leanings. He was so nervous that he was sick every day; he found solace in a land populated by elaborate cut-out paper dolls.
Yves Saint Laurent as a young child began advising the family's chic women on how to dress, cutting miniature garments from his mother's old clothes and staging plays, which he also designed.
By the age of 13 he was already designing dresses for his mother and sister, patterns that the local dressmaker would run up for him. When he turned 17 years of age his mother, Lucien took him to Paris for a short retreat, to shares his magnificent ideas to the French Fashion industry, knowingly they will be exceptionally overwhelmed by his work and creations.
Later the following year he moved to Paris on his own enrolled at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, and soon won 1st prize in a competition for a design for a cocktail dress, this was the penicle of his career.
When he reached the age of 17, his father arranged for his sketches to be shown to the editor in chief of French Vogue and enrolled him at the official couture academy in Paris.
He won his first prize in a major competition and presented Vogue with artwork that predicted Christian Dior's next collection. Dior took the ambitious youngster on as an apprentice in 1955, two years later he was promoted into an assistant.
He dressed women in triangular trapeze shapes in the 1950s. In the 1960s he clothed women in blazers, pin-striped trouser suits and smoking jackets and took risks by turning the workaday parka, the trench coat and the pea coat into haute couture. In the 1970s he dreamed up ethnic prints and used shoulder-padding into jackets.
The last of the traditional French couturiers, Saint Laurent dominated the catwalks of the 1960s and 1970s, translating what was happening on the street into elegant clothing that reflected more liberated times. Such was his influence that each time he started a trend, it was greeted as evidence of a new Zeitgeist.
Saint Laurent and wanted to be recognized around the world. He wished to expand his ideas and creations by borrowing tribal looks from Africa, sending out models with conical bras made from shells.
He was the first designer to open a ready-to-wear boutique and the first to be photographed advertising his own perfume. Yet his designs became classics, spanning class, income and age. Just about the only garment he did not invent was blue demin.
In the early days Saint Laurent was known to the public as the ‘Bad Boy’ of fashion. In the 1960s, women were banned from restaurants for wearing ‘YSL’ trouser suits, presuming his clothing ranges were aimed only for the homosexuals, when the public were mistaken by the faulty rumors.
Saint Laurent commanded the affection of the French in a way other designers never could, becoming as much a International icon as his lifelong friend Catherine Deneuve he designed her costumes for Bunuel’s Belle de Jour in 1965, part of the secret of his mystique lay in the fact that he conformed completely to the Gallic cliché of the tortured genius traumatised by his own talent.
During the 1980s he became known as the "Grande Malade" of French fashion living almost as a recluse and emerging in public only to take a bow at his twice-yearly haute couture exhibitions, his designs were scavenged for inspiration.
Unfortunately there was talk of drugs, drink and disease; for several years he arrived on the catwalk looking puffy, reel and disorientated. At one stage the rumours about his health became so intense that Pierre Bergé, his erstwhile lover and president of YSL was forced to state publicly that Saint Laurent did not have Aids and in perfectly good health.
Fashion writers from all over the world complained that his designs were becoming more conventional and had a field day obituarising his talent: "It’s time someone had the courage to point out the emperor has no new clothes", snarled one. The criticisms revealed more about the vagaries of fashion than about Saint Laurent.
In 1993 he won an action against Ralph Lauren for having copied his famous tuxedo dress. "I am no longer concerned with sensation and innovation, but with the perfection of my style," Saint Laurent announced in 1982.
In 1955 he was whisked away by Christian Dior one of the most prestigious fashion name in the world. Dior became a father figure to Saint Laurent and the admiration was reciprocated: "Saint Laurent is the only one worthy to carry on after me," Dior declared. Two years later Dior died suddenly, of a heart attack, at the age of 52. The sudden shock of Dior’s death made him rushed back home and scribbled 1,000 designs in a fortnight. Later Saint Laurent was edited by the staff, who chose the trapeze look as silhouette for his first collection in January 1958. The collection was a huge success. Later Saint Laurent was named his successor, at 21 he was the world’s youngest couturier.
In his first solo collection in 1958, Saint Laurent lightened up Dior’s traditional look by removing the shoulder-pads, tulle and corsets and by introducing a line of "trapeze" dresses that swung freely from the shoulders. The show was a success and ended with people in the audience being trampled underfoot in the rush to congratulate him: "Saint Laurent has saved France".
Saint Laurent was loathed by many of his competitors by numerous numbers of collections.
Bergé became a huge part of Saint Laurent’s life by taking hold of the position business manager, nanny and lover, forever taking the strain of his prodigious talent and his emotional frailty, lavishing everything on him to make his life more bearable and controlling his enormous global enterprise. However they both shared a passionate and volatile relationship: "One week they’re so close," observed a friend, "the next they’re not talking; Bergé slamming doors, Yves is slumped tragically across a sofa throwing burning looks at him." Though they did not remain lovers, their love affair ended after a short period of time.
In the early 80’s Saint Laurent was known as the king of radical chic. The model recalled him as being ‘so much younger and cooler than the other couturiers’, was the only designer who went to nightclubs’.
Saint Laurent ascended to icon status in the 1980s, becoming the first designer to have a retrospective dedicated to his work in his own lifetime, at the Metropolitan Museum, New York. In 1985 he was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur.
However Saint Laurent became fabulously rich but did not bask in his success he intended to create brand new ideas. Saint Laurent continued to design the Haute Couture collection.
He was increasingly beset by emotional problems and depression. His addictions to cocaine and alcohol about losing his place as the king of fashion.
"Once I was suffering so much I considered attaching the heaviest bronze from my collection round my neck and throwing myself into the Seine," he told one interviewer. "I am fascinated most of all by my perceptions of a world in awesome transition."
By the mid-1990s St Laurent seemed to have conquered his demons. He began to come out of seclusion, taking walks with his dog and visiting more of old friends.
In 2002 he retired and announced retirement. "I feel I created the wardrobe of the contemporary woman."
"Fashion dies, but style remains," as Saint Laurent once observed; it was a vivid and astonishing reminder of his legacy.