Monday, July 14, 2008


The passing of eternal French couturier Yves Saint Laurent to brain cancer halted the fashion world last June. He was audacious, revolutionary as well as evolutionary, and a true perfectionist. A front-leader to clothe women in masculine attire, employ Ebony models and controversially posed nude for his 70’s perfume campaign “Pour Homme”. His mere genius was possibly a juxtaposition of his frazzled bouts of depression, dependency on narcotics and uncanny solace of solitude.

Brief History
Algerian born, he arrived in Paris bushy-tail in his late teens.He shortly became the apprentice of Christian Dior after catching his eye at a design competition. The young Yves later was appointed head designer at the tender age of 21 after the passing of his mentor. A mandatory 27 months of military service landed him hospitalize due to one of many nervous breakdowns. After a pivotal falling-out with the house of Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and business and lifetime partner Pierre Bergé created their own haute couture house in 1962.

Iconic Collections
Being a man of culture, his designs were rendered in depictions of Dali, Matisse and Picasso to name a few. An avid reader, Oscar Wilde, Shakespeare and Jean Cocteau were poetic sources of inspiration. His opulent pieces would immerse audiences in exotic remote locations of Asia, Africa and Russia, which the latter being one of his great acclaimed collections. He was also socially influenced and inspired by the streets as seen in his Chic Beatnik collection of black leather jackets or Le Smoking where he vehicled the sexual empowerment of the contemporary woman. In the mid-60’s YSL Rive Gauche was launched, the prêt-a-porter line accessible to the mainstream customer.
His art transcended fashion which was seen on the silver screen where he costume designed for movies such as Belle De Jour featuring the beautiful actress Catherine Deneuve who later became one of his many muses and great friend. His devoted following encompassed the likes of American socialite Nan Kempner, jewellery designer Loulou de Lafalaise and model Betty Catroux.
His passing came at a coincidental time. The inauguration day of the 2008 Montreal Fashion Festival (June 4 – 8) debuted with a special presentation of 40 Canadian designers paying a tribute to the 40th anniversary of the Haute Couture Yves Saint Laurent house, the Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent Foundation. Each designer provided their reflection on YSL the man himself and his attribution to fashion as their creations were being spotlighted. Some of the highlights were nonetheless the tuxedo, the trench coat and the use of show-stopping colors like bold yellow and fetish fuschia. At the end of the spectacle, an emotional homage showcased the life-and-time of the beloved designer. A serene silence came over the crowd as each individually bid their farewell.
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is as well showcasing the designer’s masterpieces. The Love exhibition debuted May 29 and will run till September 28. The show is divided into four sections- “The Stroke of a Pencil”; “The Yves Saint Laurent Revolution”; “The Palette”; and “Lyrical Sources”. Spectators will have the privilege and opportunity to view original hand sketches, audibly listen to an interview on YSL recounting his joys in life; watch his 2002 finale haute couture fashion show coveting his glorified looks. A true testament to his timeless allure is the contemporary 1965 Mondrian graphic dress . The exhibition will travel to the Young Museum of San Francisco from November 2008 to March 2009.A young girl signed the museum’s guest book stating that one day she wants to grow up to be like her idol. He inspired us all to successfully follow our true passion and leave behind such beauty. As you take your final bow, we thank you
Mr. Yves Henri Donat Mathieu Saint Laurent.

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