YSL: Three letters representing a phenomenon in French haute couture and a profound influence in fashion since the 1960s. A genius with a remarkable breadth of vision, destined to revolutionize women’s clothes: Yves Saint Laurent.
Success at an Early Age
In 1954, the 17-year-old prodigy left Oran, his hometown in Algeria, for Paris. Three years later, he was introduced to Christian Dior who hired him on the spot after seeing his sketches. In a twist of fate, Yves Saint Laurent took over as head designer following Dior’s sudden death in 1957... He was only 21 years old.
From then on, his career was a resounding success. In 1962, Yves Saint Laurent opened his own fashion house in partnership with his Pygmalion, Pierre Bergé.
A Pied Piper of Fashion
Saint Laurent’s lifelong relationship with Pierre Bergé raised the haute couture designer to the status of icon. The power couple brought together creative genius and business acumen, becoming a force to be reckoned with.
YSL was often inspired by art and exotic places. Unafraid to reach beyond Haute Couture, he championed “style,” which is eternal and inherent, and set a template for style that is still followed today.
Early on in his career, Yves Saint Laurent introduced refined and theatrical aesthetics to the traditional post-war Parisian haute couture scene. Always finding the right note between functionality and elegance, he brought street fashion on the runway. His designs reflected the desires of the increasingly assertive woman of the 1960s.
In 1966, YSL opened Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. The luxury boutique offered lower-priced but exquisitely made ready-to-wear collections of basic clothing. He revolutionized fashion.
Creative Designs, Arts, and Exotic Places
Yves Saint Laurent’s unrestrained imagination found inspiration in his passion for arts and exotic far-off lands —Morocco, India, China, Spain, Russia, Turkey.
The clothes spoke eloquently of the designer’s timeless sense of style and huge influence on fashion. His legacy includes famous pieces such as Mondrian-inspired dresses, an Iris cardigan in homage to Van Gogh, and the safari and exotic peasant looks that YSL made famous. A 1966’s sheer blouse Topless Habillé, Le Smoking tuxedo jacket and its lightly modified 2002 version, Vintage clothes blended seamlessly with new: hallmarks of the legendary success.
A towering figure of the 20th century fashion, Yves Saint Laurent passed away in Paris, in 2008. The Master reworked the rules of fashion. He bestowed a mix of power and femininity on modern women, forever transforming their wardrobe.