French fashion: the life of Yves Saint-Laurent

Paris - French fashion - 23.03.2014 -“One day I’ll see my name in lights on the Champs-Elysées.”

This is what Yves Saint-Laurent said when he was still young, during a family meal. Years later, we have to admit that this talented teenager was right.

Assistant to Christian Dior before then being Artistic Director of the Dior French fashion house, this shy genius knew how to give his desires free reign in creating his own haute couture house.

Visionary and provocative, this lover of women knew how to make them look sublime [through his designs] and to give them freedom in clothing. From suits to tuxedos, not to mention his famous trapeze dresses, Saint-Laurent would invent the wardrobe of the modern woman.

Cliquez ici pour lire cet article en français. 

The early life of Yves

Born in Oran, Algeria, young Yves spent his childhood in the family home. A sensitive child who was liked by his peers, he would always treasure memories of his early childhood, which were the happiest of his life.

Surrounded by women when growing up, an intuition for fashion quickly became apparent. His mother remembered how at only three years old, Yves made one of his aunts change her clothing, as he didn’t like her outfit.

An early start, you say? Certainly, and this love of fashion would soon become Yves’ reason for being. A talented designer, fascinated by the world of fashion, he would seek advice from a man that would become the trigger that started his career: Michel de Brunhoff.

YSL - French fashion - 23.03.2014 -

From de Brunhoff to Dior

In 1953, Yves’ mother has asked one of her friends to organise a meeting between Yves and Michel de Brunhoff, editor-in-chief of Vogue France: the iconic French fashion magazine.

De Brunhoff was dumbstruck, amazed by the pencil strokes of the young man of only 17 years old, which reminded de Brunhoff of the pencil strokes of another: his friend and French fashion designer, Christian Dior.

De Brunhoff would do something he had never done before: he delivered Yves’ sketches in person to Christian Dior.

Dior had to admit the talent of the young man, and decided to take Yves on as his assistant. Some years later, Yves would be named artistic director of the house of Dior, making him one of the youngest to have ever held this title.

From the Dior years to the Yves Saint-Laurent French fashion house

After several years with Dior, where his creations brought simplicity and fluidity together to great success, Saint-Laurent decided to launch his own haute couture label.

In 1962, the French public discovered the golden initials of the Yves Saint-Laurent fashion house, created in association with Saint-Laurent’s partner, Pierre Bergé.

French fashion - Paris - 23.03.2014 -

Far from the fashions of the period, Saint-Laurent established himself as an avant-garde designer.

He thought outside the box, which is proven by the following quote, referring to his Mondrian collection: “I was tired of creating dresses for blasé billionaires.”

Saint-Laurent mixed influences, materials, and genre, since he was largely

inspired by masculine wardrobes. Six years after his death, this revolutionary of female style remains and will continue to stay present in the life of each woman, through his work.

What do you think about Yves Saint-Laurent’s designs? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Translated by Niamh Cloughley
1. Documentary on the career of Yves Saint-Laurent (in French).
2. Biography of Yves Saint-Laurent by Laurence Benaïm.
3. Article ‘Hommage à Yves Saint-Laurent’ (in French).
4. Fondation Pierre Bergé & Yves Saint-Laurent.
Image credits:
1. YSL working for Dior, by Carl Guderian on Flickr. 
2.Cocktail dress (Yves Saint-Laurent for Dior), from Wikipedia.
3. YSL coat dress, from Wikipedia.

About the Contributor

Christelle Faux

Originaire de Toulouse, c’est suite à mes études de commerce que j’ai décidé de m’orienter vers la communication et plus particulièrement le journalisme. Passionnée de voyage, de mode et d’art, c’est à travers mes articles que je souhaite partager avec vous mes découvertes et coups de cœur. Suivez-moi sur Instagram.

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One Comment

  1. Selina Sykes Apr 2, 2014 at 6:33 AM - Reply

    Saw the film last week at the Institut français in London, I would recommend it to any francophiles and/or fashionistas!

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