Yves Saint Laurent was unique among his contemporaries for the way he incorporated everything from his love of the arts to his fondness for the styles of street culture into his fashions. Whether it was a wool jersey dress that became a canvas for colorful geometric abstractions or a line of clothes that took its cue from leather-jacket clad bohemians on Paris’s Left Bank, Saint Laurent was always looking outside the fashion world for his inspiration.
Saint Laurent began his career at a very early age, taking a job as a design assistant at Dior in 1954 when he was still a teenager. After Dior’s death in 1957, Saint Laurent, who was only 21, was named Dior’s chief designer. This was a huge responsibility for the young designer and French fashion in general—at the time, Dior accounted for almost 50 percent of France’s fashion exports. A lot would be riding on his first outing.
Happily, Saint Laurent’s spring 1958 collection for Dior was a huge success, the centerpiece of which was a line of trapeze dresses, which were narrow at the shoulders and wide at the hem. Saint Laurent had saved Dior and the French economy in one blow, but his fall 1958 collection was a critical and commercial disaster, as was the Left Bank-inspired Beat Look that followed—the world was not quite ready for all those black leather jackets and turtleneck sweaters.
In 1960 Saint Laurent was drafted into the French army, but he only served 20 days—he was hospitalized from the hazing inflicted on him by his fellow conscripts. It was in the hospital that he learned that he’d been fired from Dior. This sent Saint Laurent over the edge, which led to a stay in a mental hospital where he was regularly sedated with drugs and given electroshock therapy.
For many people that might have been the end of the story, but Saint Laurent climbed out of this hole and by 1962 had founded his own fashion house with lifelong business partner, Pierre Bergé.
One of the first influences Saint Laurent drew upon for his fashions was visual art. Early in the 1960s, André Courrèges had already created Piet Mondrian-like go-go boots, but Saint Laurent was the first to grandly appropriate the great mid-century artist’s work as bold super graphics on straight-cut dresses.
In 1966, the year after the Mondrian dresses, Saint Laurent introduced “le smoking,” which was a black tuxedo jacket that was cut to flatter the female form. Some of these jacket...
Until then, the only reliable, can’t-miss item in a woman’s wardrobe was her little black dress by Chanel or others. With the tuxedo jacket or suit, Saint Laurent gave women a brand new item for their fashion arsenals. Catherine Deneuve, Lisa Minnelli, and Lauren Bacall were instant fans—Bianca Jagger wore a white Saint Laurent suit at her wedding to Mick.
In 1966, Saint Laurent became the first major designer to get ready-to-wear right with Rive Gauche—boutiques of the same name soon followed, and the brand was eventually sold to Gucci in 1999. He was also the first major fashion designer to hire black fashion models to wear his clothes for his highly prestigious runway shows.
Embroidered African-inspired garments followed in 1967, as did more street-inspired fashions in 1968—most of these riffs on the leather-fringed attire of student protesters. Along the way, Saint Laurent added safari looks (his short-sleeve shirts had breast as well as hip pockets) and collections based on the Ballet Russes and European peasant costumes.
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Dylan Brosnan Lands Yves Saint Laurent Campaign, But, Hey, We Wouldn't ...Bustle, November 20th
Children of celebrities are blessed in more ways than one. Needless to say, being the by-product of A-lister parents comes with a long list of benefits to reaped (wealth, anyone? fame?). But it's a special case for only a handful of celeb prodigies...Read more
Saint Laurent a faithful, lavish depiction of fashion iconDaily Trojan Online, November 18th
Bertrand Bonello's biopic Saint Laurent is a deliberately hot mess, simultaneously precise and excessive, much like its subject, Yves Saint Laurent, himself. Bonello has directed and co-written a curious film that slithers under viewers skin and stays...Read more
Why The Yves Saint Laurent Wildy Gold Palette Will Make The Party Season A ...Marie Claire.co.uk, November 18th
The brand new Yves Saint Laurent Wildy Gold Palette is everything you need for a night out, all housed in one seriously stylish travel case. Featuring all the basic components of any glamorous evening look, this essential accessory can fit into the...Read more
Val Kilmer's Teen Son Jack is the New Face of Yves Saint Laurent — Plus 12 ...Life & Style Weekly, November 17th
It's been confirmed the teen is the new face for fashion powerhouse Yves Saint Laurent's menswear collection! Jack's had a relationship with YSL over the past year, as he made his debut at their 'Psych Rock' Paris fashion week show back in June [see...Read more
Jack Kilmer lands Yves Saint Laurent jobFemaleFirst.co.uk, November 17th
The 19-year-old son of the 'Top Gun' actor Val Kilmer has landed a lucrative deal with the brand as the new face of their 'Permanent' menswear clothing collection. In June, he made his debut at their Spring/Summer 2015 'Psych Rock' fashion show, during ...Read more
Second Saint Laurent biopic different by designSouth China Morning Post (subscription), November 15th
Four months into writing his biopic of Yves Saint Laurent, director-writer Bertrand Bonello got the call. Another film about the French fashion icon was going into production. It's the sort of news that would deflate even the most resilient of...Read more
Forum Members Weigh in on Cara Delevingne's Latest Beauty Ad for YSL ...The Fashion Spot, November 14th
Cara Delevingne is no stranger to fronting beauty campaigns for Yves Saint Laurent. The British model was first tapped by the iconic French brand back in 2013 and the relationship is still going strong. This time around, we see the 22-year-old beauty...Read more
From Yves to Hedi: The Journey of Saint LaurentBillionaires Australia, October 31st
Following three years as the head designer at the House of Dior, Saint Laurent decided to embark upon his own journey and set up Yves Saint Laurent with Pierre. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the fashion house became renowned for popularising ...Read more