One of fashion’s most famous names, Yves Saint Laurent helped revive couture, helped make ready-to-wear reputable, was the first designer to use women of color in runway shows and introduced the famed tuxedo suit for women. Born in Algeria, Saint Laurent moved to Paris at age 18, and enrolled at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, where his designs were recognized immediately. He was introduced to Christian Dior and spent years at the designer’s side and before succeeding him as head designer at age 21, after Dior died of a heart attack. Saint Laurent was eventually fired, but sued for breach of contract and won. He struck out on his own with the help of partner Pierre Bergé and millionaire J. Mack Robinson.
During the 1960s and 1970s, YSL designed beatnik looks, safari jackets, thigh high boots and Le Smoking, the famed classic tuxedo suit. His muses included Iman, Catherine Deneuve, Loulou de la Falaise, Betty Catroux. When not designing or jet setting between Paris and New York, he spent time at his neo-gothic villa, Chateau Gabriel, in Marrakech, Morroco. Saint Laurent died of brain cancer in 2008 at his residence in Paris. Designer Hedi Slimane has recently taken over the creative reigns at YSL and will be working out of Los Angeles (a move that upset some fashion industry folks) and there is a new logo, Saint Laurent Paris, which confused fans, but it’s all part of of the label’s reinvention. Slimane debut Spring 2013 runway collection will be presented during Paris Fashion Week this fall.
Pictured at right is a 1980s YSL Yves Saint Laurent Silk Tiered Geometric Floral Gown. For more information visit 1stdibs.