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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Recent News: Yves Saint Laurent

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'Yves Saint Laurent' doesn't dig deep
Detroit Free Press, September 20th

As is so often the case in depicting the life of a famous, tortured artist, “Yves Saint Laurent” shows us the emotional highs and lows and the self-destructive ways in which Saint Laurent sought balance and control. But the complex soul at the film's...Read more

Yves Saint Laurent Uses Google Glass To Give Fashion Advice
Android Headlines - Android News, September 18th

Lets start this article off by answering the question we know most of you are asking right now, who is Yves Saint Laurent? He was a regarded French designer who is considered to be one of the most prevalent names in Fashion. Knowing this, it was a...Read more

Take an Exotic Sojourn with Yves Saint Laurent: A Moroccan Passion, a Tribute ...
InStyle, September 17th

As chillier temps settle in and we transition into full autumn, we can't think of a better getaway than a visual transport to North Africa. Yves Saint Laurent: A Moroccan Passion, a billet doux to the late designer by his lifelong partner Pierre Bergé...Read more

Yves Saint Laurent Uses Google Glass for Beauty Tutorial Videos
Glass Almanac, September 16th

The beauty industry giant Yves Saint Laurent recently tested Google Glass as a customer service and education tool in the heart of New York City. Back on September 4th and 5th, for eight hours both days, YSL beauty experts wore Glass at the 59th Street ...Read more

Yves Saint Laurent biopic is only the first one this year
USA TODAY, September 11th

Fashion designers bestride our culture like colossi, but you don't see them striding much on the silver screen. All the more curious that there are two movies this year about Yves Saint Laurent. Not so long ago, in 2009, there were two biopics about...Read more

Yves Saint Laurent
Arkansas Online (subscription), September 4th

There's a remote feeling to Jalil Lespert's bio-pic of Yves Saint Laurent, the French fashion designer who died in 2008, that suits the world the man apparently lived in -- the louche luxury of what used to be called the "jet set." While at no point...Read more

'Yves Saint Laurent': Biopic plays up designer's dark side
Chicago Sun-Times, August 28th

Now joining the pack is Jalil Lespert's “Yves Saint Laurent.” Based on Laurence Benaim's biography, the biopic is a sometimes sluggish, sometimes fascinating account of a precocious talent on the verge of being overshadowed by a troubled personal life...Read more

Getting a sense of Yves Saint Laurent's style
Chicago Sun-Times, August 25th

In “Yves Saint Laurent” (opening Friday), Niney plays the designer from his early diagnosis as manic depressive to the rise of the house of Saint Laurent fashions in Paris. In between, Saint Laurent dealt with drug abuse, a destructive affair with a...Read more