Monday, June 2, 2008

Goodbye Yves...

Shed a tear for a 20th century legend: Yves Saint Laurent, the saint of fashion is no longer with us... According to Reuters,
French fashion king Yves Saint Laurent has died at the age of 71 [...] [his] death on Sunday was announced without any details of the cause, [but he] was plagued by health problems. "(Coco) Chanel gave women freedom. Yves Saint Laurent gave them power," Saint Laurent's long-time friend and business partner Pierre Berge told France Info radio."(But) he was someone who was very shy and introverted, who had only very few friends and hid himself from the world."
At 17 pied noir Yves entered a Paris fashion school, and his sketch for a cocktail dress won first prize in an annual contest. Introduced to Christian Dior, Saint Laurent was hired on the spot as his chief assistant, so impressed was Dior. On Dior's death in 1957, Saint Laurent took over as chief designer at the tender age of 21.
He then opened his own house in 1962 to roaring success, introducing Le Smoking for women, the Trapeze collection, the dresses inspired by Mondrian, the Safari... In 1983, he became the first living fashion designer to be honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
In 1992, YSL was absorbed by cosmetics and drugs company Sanofi, while Saint Laurent retained creative control. Then in 1999 the brand was bought by the Gucci group, itself controlled by French luxury giant PPR while Yves formally retired in 2002. In 2001, he was awarded the rank of Commander of the Légion d'Honneur by French president Jacques Chirac.
His motto "We must never confuse elegance with snobbery" resonates with true style.

Yves has been a fashion and design icon for me ever since I came to see his beautiful designs and smell his legendary Opium, which has been my ally and companion ever since I remember myself, and PerfumeShrine will dedicate a small tribute to Yves in the coming days as a small token of admiration and gratitude. Personally I propose canonisation as well...Please take a look at this excellent site: the YSL Foundation founded by him with Pierre Bergé and this article by the New York Times.

Pic of young Yves courtesy of Getty images. Pic of this beautiful YSL couture gown sent to me by mail by arch-admirer of YSL "Armanis" (M) with fond gratitute for knowledge and taste in matters of fashion.


  1. What a loss!
    May he have found his peace.
    We here nourish and cherish the memory-that's for sure. I wonder if such a talent is still found today?

  2. Anonymous13:04

    Monsieur Saint Laurent was the quintessential designer to me... where so many to day seem dated, his designs remain timeless and modern. He was a true artist. But instead of music or painting, his passion was clothes and the female ideal. Our luck. I look forward to reading your tribute!

  3. I'm spritzing Paris in his honor today. He will be missed and most of all remembered.

  4. The French websites said last night he died of a brain tumour. I remember rumours, a few years back, saying he was suffering from some form of dementia. He certainly seemed out of it, when he was last photographed in public.

    There is a delightful little video about his *second* fashion show here: Recently unearthed, apparently.

  5. Tragic.
    He was a glorious fellow, so shy.

    I want that cobalt ensemble, E- ALL of it...

    Y today, with Crepe de Chine on other parts.

  6. That gown is exquisite. The man was brilliant, no question. I look forward to your tribute.

  7. Dear N,

    I don't think there is anyone today who is even given the chance to design fashion anymore (and thus to reveal their talent): the whole world of luxury brands is driven by accessories! In the words of Givenchy "fashion is dead".

    Sad, very sad.

  8. Dear Sylvia,

    thank you. Yes, he had a knack of making timeless designs and in fact a retrospectiva of his in the early 90s raised much admiration for this fact alone: every single outfit could be worn still without looking out of place.

    He seemed to believe that one should keep their well-made, quality clothes and combine them with newer ones.
    (No wonder he went into debt...)

  9. Dear J,

    indeed he will be missed.
    He loved Paris and his tribute to the city through a perfume is a very romantic idea.

  10. Dear Bela,

    merci pour le lien!
    Very interesting clip and it highlights his genius and how people reacted to that.

    I have heard some gossip that he had psychological problems for many years (though noone mentioned anything concrete) and that he had become a reclusive.
    A brain tumour sounds terrible and if so, at least he was spared at last the -undoubtably- degrading prolongation of a disease with no treatment. RIP

  11. Dear I,

    he was a gentle personality, with many artistic quirks.

    I had read in the past the most glorious interview (in a series of interviews with designers and their mothers): his whole personality shone through the words in the paper. He had been much loved as a child, it showed and I think that was the benchmark upon which he was able to create so lovingly for women from such an early age.
    Not all designers really love women and want to make them beautiful.

  12. Dear M,

    thank you, hope I won't disappoint.

    That cobalt-blue gown is the epitome of his style, hence I included it from a vast collection of pics that dear M had sent.
    Style, elegance, beauty, drama but controlled: they're all there in spades.

  13. That is a beautiful and timeless garment, exquisite! Thanks, Armanis! (I miss you! Hope things are going better for you.)

  14. Yes, isn't it, dear Karin.
    (and I echo your wishes and sentiment)

  15. Anonymous21:51

    What a talented man!
    I like his motto, unfortunatelly I think that snobbery rules in the world of expensive clothes.
    I love YSL perfumes.

  16. Just a word to recommend reading Alicia Drake's very compelling and well researched "The Beautiful Fall", a parallel biography of Yves Saint Laurent and his longtime friend/foe Karl Lagerfeld. Monsieur Saint Laurent was a complex personnality, far from the gentle, angst-ridden genius of his legend. He was all that and more...

  17. Dear L,

    indeed there is much pretence in fashion instead of style.
    I love YSL perfumes myself.

  18. Dear D,

    yes, I had linked the book (in fact the quote is from there), it's very interesting.
    Karl is talented too (and kudos for injecting hippness to the Chanel brand he received almost "dead" and for designing so many lines for so many years: Chanel's, his own, Fendi's etc.).
    But somehow Yves had a different eye. Maybe his troubled life had something to do with it.

  19. It's interesting - I love some of YSL's works but not others, but then again, that's similar to how many people feel about art, right? In terms of his personality, I compare my perception of YSL to how I feel about Werner Herzog: when he was in his element he was bold and brash, but so frequently in public he was reserved and thoughtful so it became his hallmark.

  20. Great reference to a favourite director: Risa, we seem to share many passions!

    There are of course tastes within one artist's work. And concerning the YSL Beaute, I think only the earlier works reflect his vision (by the time Baby Doll rolled in for instance, I knew he was a little "spaced out": not representative of the brand at all, very very girly)


Type your comment in the box, choose the Profile option you prefer from the drop down menu, below text box (Anonymous is fine too!) and hit Publish.
And you're set!

This Month's Popular Posts on Perfume Shrine