Words by Helen Sanfey
May 12th, 2015
Yves Saint Laurent’s fashion career originated under the watchful eye of Dior, where he learned his trade until the death of the revolutionary designer in 1957 . “Dior fascinated me,” Yves was quoted to have said ”I couldn’t speak in front of him. He taught me the basis of my art. Whatever was to happen next, I never forgot the years I spent at his side.”.
The Yves Saint Laurent fashion house established in the early 1960’s alongside Pierre Berge was created with the intention of pushing the boundaries of fashion and that is exactly what they did. Being the first designer to use models of different ethnicities and creating the first tuxedo for women Yves work hit every corner of the globe, becoming the genius innovator of women’s clothing such as the sheer blouse and jumpsuit, still in style in 2015.
In 1971 Saint Laurent was credited with making one of the most controversial collections the fashion scene at the time had ever seen. The ‘Homage aux Anees 40’s’ collection consisted of the fox fur ‘chubby’, tailored jacket and turbans drawing inspiration from the New York underground scene to the Nazi occupied streets of Paris. The upper-class society in Paris at that time took huge offence to what the collection was referring to, creating immense scandal. Saint Laurent, however stood behind his collection replying “What I want to do is shock.” This look was recreated by both Jean Paul Gaultier, Martin Margiela and many other designers in years to come and was also said to have been a major influence on the power dressing look of the eighties, giving credence to Saint Laurent’s reaction to the backlash at the time, “sometimes it takes something shocking to create change. And sometimes it takes ‘the ugliest show in town’ to change the face of fashion.”
The fearless nature of the YSL collections soon became his trademark as six years later he caused more disturbance by naming his 1977 fragrance ‘Opium’. Instead of apologising, Saint Laurent hosted a million dollar party on a boat docked in New York, with over 800 of the world’s elite such as Truman Capote, Diane Vreeland, Cher and Nan Kempner among the exclusive guest list, Andy Warhol is said to have spent over 10 years regretting missing out on the infamously opulent party. It is this period of time, the film is interested in exploring as it chronicles the designers most iconicly creative and indulgent years of 1967 and 1976, when Laurent was at the pinnacle of success but also at war with himself as he battled with infamy, drugs and alcohol addiction.
In 2002 Yves Saint Laurent celebrated 40 years of couture while showing his final collection, closing the curtains on his dynasty in the self-named fashion house.
In 2008 Yves Saint Laurent died at the age of 71, still remaining the most adept designer that ever lived.
Saint Laurent opened on Friday May 8, and is currently showing in selective theatres. Read more about our summer movie must-sees here.
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