The full name of the famous Yves Saint Laurent sounds like Yves Henri Donat Mathieu Saint Laurent. He was born, as is already clear, in a wealthy family, in colonial Algeria. The father of the future legendary French couturier dreamed that his son would become a lawyer. In addition, Eve studied well at school. But the teenager himself was not tempted by the prospect of giving his life to courts and law, and his mother took his side.
Young Saint Laurent still doubted who he should become - a fashion designer or a theater artist. So the young man decided on his future.
In 1954, at the age of 18, Yves graduated from high school and came to Paris. In the capital of style, Saint Laurent entered a fashion school, where in the autumn of the same year he took part in a competition for young fashion designers. He was able to win the main prize for his sketch, thanks to the presence of an unusual asymmetrical neckline on the cocktail dress. The beginning German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld also took part in the same competition and won a prize for his coat.
Michel de Brunoff continued to participate in the fate of Yves Saint Laurent - he evaluated sketches, gave advice and introduced useful people. One day, Yves came up with a few new sketches, in which the surprised patron found striking similarities to the sketches from Christian Dior's collection. But he still did not show them to the general public. Then de Brunoff turned to the great couturier and asked him to meet with Saint Laurent.
As a result of that meeting, a novice 18-year-old fashion designer was offered a job at the famous Dior fashion house. The work of Yves Saint Laurent was highly regarded, as a result, he quickly became the right hand of the maestro, and then he was even declared heir. In September 1957, Dior went on vacation, leaving his business to a young assistant. However, on vacation, the designer suffered a heart attack, as a result of which Dior died. So the young Yves Saint Laurent suddenly became the face of a major fashion house.
The new chapter began by slightly changing the traditional style of Dior. In January 1958, the first independent collection of Yves Saint Laurent was presented. The Frenchman showed the public new free-silhouette trapeze dresses. Newspapers scattered in compliments, the 21-year-old fashion designer was declared the savior of national fashion. The successful collection immediately increased Dom Dior's sales by 35%.
However, clouds soon began to gather over the young fashion designer. Textile tycoon Marcel Bussac, who owned the House, did not appreciate the creative direction that the young genius chose. Conservatives were alarmed by the experiments that Saint Laurent began to carry out - he dared to cross the democratic street fashion with high style. And the audience began to perceive the new collections more calmly - the next five shows did not cause much excitement.
In 1960, Yves Saint Laurent was drafted into the army. It was rumored that none other than Bussac had arranged this service for him. However, Saint Laurent spent only two weeks in the army. He was so shocked by the change of scenery that he experienced a severe nervous breakdown. The designer spent the next couple of months of his life in a Parisian psychiatric hospital. I must say that that period was reflected in the career of the fashion designer. In his home of Dior, he discovered that his place was taken by another young genius - Mark Boana.
The management offered Saint Laurent another, much more modest post. He had to monitor the implementation of the terms of the licenses issued by the company in England. Such a position and the changes behind his back offended Yves Saint Laurent. He filed a lawsuit against his employer, winning $ 24,000 in his claim. This amount became the basis for the creation, together with friend Pierre Berger, of their own Fashion House. In addition, the couple found a sponsor - American millionaire Mack Robinson. He allocated funds to promote a new brand.
In December 1961, the grand opening of the Yves Saint Laurent Fashion House took place. The couturier himself solemnly declared that he had moved from the world of proportions and fabrics to the world of lines and silhouettes. This marked the beginning of the democratic ready-to-wear fashion. Paris was looking forward to the first collection of the new brand. And although many skeptics predicted failure of Saint Laurent, he managed to surprise everyone with his show. The audience applauded the designer's collections. Since then, his career has been developing again in an upward direction. Almost every year, the fashion designer pleases the audience with new ideas.
As a result, thanks in large part to his efforts, modern fashion got its current look. Among the most notable innovations are the raincoat jacket, which appeared in 1962, vinyl raincoats (1965), and in 1966, Yves Saint Laurent introduced women's trouser suits, striped T-shirt dresses, pea jackets and the famous ladies' tuxedos. The Frenchman has revolutionized the women's wardrobe! And the following year, he introduced safari-style suits with patch pockets, as well as overalls. Transparent dresses turned out to be a good alternative.
Since 1966, Yves Saint Laurent began annually to present not only a couple of collections of exclusive haute couture clothes, but also two ready-to-wear Rive Gauche collections. It was the fashion designer who first suggested that the ready-to-wear market would soon lead the fashion industry. Like Christian Dior earlier, Coco Chanel also proclaimed Yves Saint Laurent as her heir. The woman couturier explained her choice in the following way: “Everyone thinks about the fleetingness of fashion, and Yves Saint Laurent thinks about modern clothes for women of the second half of our century”. This practicality made the designer rich, but the financial success quickly passed.
In the 1970s, the financial genius of Pierre Berger made Yves Saint Laurent a real empire with multi-million dollar revenues. The company earned not only on clothes, but also on related products - perfumes, bags, jewelry. Opium has become a classic in perfumery, making both the brand and its owner even more famous. But in the late 1980s, the empire began to slide into crisis. To correct matters, Pierre Berger began to actively sell the rights to use the famous brand to other manufacturers.
Such indiscriminateness led to a fall in the brand's image, it shredded, blurred in the eyes of customers. They stopped seeing something amazing and exceptional in a product named YSL. It is also good that Berger and Saint Laurent were able to take advantage of the support of the French President Mitterrand. He insisted that in 1993 the state-owned company Elf-Sanofi acquire a large stake in the distressed fashion house. But after the change of president, this financial source quickly dried up.
For the next several years, YSL operated at a loss. At the same time, the amount of losses was constantly growing. If in 1999 the losses amounted to 700 thousand dollars, then in two years - already 70 million. The true scale of the company's problems became apparent only after its sale in 1999. French billionaire Francois Pinault bought a controlling stake for a billion dollars. Another 70 million were received personally by Saint Laurent and Berger for the right to use their YSL brand in a ready-to-wear line. But the maestro still has the right to make haute couture collections twice a year.
To save his dying asset, Pino used serious forces. Italian businessman Domenico de Sole and American designer Tom Ford were called in to help the famous brand. Several years earlier, the couple had been able to resurrect another famous company, Gucci. A worthy competitor in the fashion world has reborn from her. The new ideologists of the YSL brand are extraordinary personalities.
Tom Ford is very energetic, his efficiency borders on aggressiveness. He is the opposite of the emotional and nervous Yves Saint Laurent, who so often fell into depression. This dissimilarity made it increasingly difficult for the pair of leaders to get along together. Although Ford and Saint Laurent entered into a non-intervention agreement, an equal alliance between them did not work out in the end.
When the first ready-to-wear collection designed for YSL by Tom Ford was shown in January 2001, Yves Saint Laurent, along with Pierre Berger, deliberately did not show up at the event. And the next day, the couple calmly showed up for the debut show of Hedi Slimane, a competitor from the House of Dior. Such a trick of Saint Laurent did not go unnoticed, because before that he had completely ignored other people's shows for 10 years. At this show, TV people filmed interesting footage - Yves Saint Laurent complained to the head of the rival LVMH concern Bernard Arnault, claiming that he felt cheated. As a result, a year later, the maestro announced that he was finally breaking with the fashion world.
This news, although expected, became a sensation. 65-year-old Yves Saint Laurent made his statement on January 7, 2002: “Today I made the decision to say goodbye to the fashion world that I loved so much ...”. So this profession left one of the cult personalities. And the main reason for leaving was the accumulated disagreements between the fashion designer and the brand owner, Francois Pinault. In front of the journalists, Saint Laurent read the prepared speech and left the hall, while Pierre Berger, a friend and longtime companion of his life, had to explain to the journalists. He, of course, assured the press that the retirement from the fashion designer had nothing to do with pressure from François Pinault.
Although the YSL brand continued to exist, there will no longer be any haute couture collections from it. So Pino beautifully thanked the master, who had retired. On June 1, 2008, Yves Saint Laurent died after a long illness, having managed to enter into a same-sex union with his longtime companion and partner Pierre Berger. In 2004, Italian Stefano Pilati became the chief designer of YSL.
He returned viewers to the shows of the famous brand. Pilati began to use original fabrics, elegant silhouettes, his creativity allowed him to transform everyday things into unusual ones. However, in 2012, the creative director left the company. Now the Fashion House is going to change again - rebranding, moving the workshop to Los Angeles.