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Yves Saint Laurent: 7 Things You Never Knew About the Fashion Giant

Yves Saint Laurent: 7 Things You Never Knew About the Fashion Giant

If you ask people to name their favorite fashion designers of all-time, Yves Saint Laurent would be at the top of many lists. However, not so many people know all the highs and lows that made up his very interesting life.

Are you curious to learn more about the man behind the legendary fashion empire? Here are 7 things to know about Yves Saint Laurent:

1. Childhood in Algiers

Yves Henri Donat Mathieu Saint Laurent was born on August 1, 1936 in North Africa (Oran, Algeria to be exact) to parents of French ancestry.

As a child, he enjoyed creating elaborate paper dolls, and by time he was a teenager, he was designing dresses for his sisters and mother. 

At the age of 17, he decided to move to Paris and went to study at the elite Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

2. Fast Rise at Dior

In Paris, Saint Laurent met Michel de Brunhoff, the Editor-in-Chief of the French edition of Vogue, who was impressed with his designs and introduced him to Christian Dior. Saint Laurent quickly worked his way up to creating sketches for the Dior Couture collection.

In 1957, Christian Dior died suddenly of a heart attack, and Saint Laurent became head designer, even though he was only 21 years old.

He proved his value to the fashion brand the following year as his “trapeze dress” garnered instant international acclaim and saved the Dior empire from what could have been financial ruin.

3. More than Just a Business Partner

In 1960, Saint Laurent was conscripted to serve in the French army for the Algerian War of Independence, but after 20 days of hazing, he was sent to a military hospital. While there, he learned he had been fired from Dior.

After his release from the hospital, Saint Laurent decided to start his own fashion house. His romantic partner, Pierre Berge, an industrialist, became his business partner.

Although the couple called off the romance in 1976, they remained business partners and close friends for the rest of Saint Laurent’s life.

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4. Mick Jagger and Pantsuits

Throughout his career, Saint Laurent created many noteworthy designs.

For example, he was known for popularizing women’s pantsuits in the 1970’s. One striking example of this design trend was the Le Smoking white tuxedo ensemble, which Bianca Perez-Mora Macias wore for her 1971 wedding to Mick Jagger.

5. Just Say No

Unfortunately, Saint Laurent struggled with substance abuse for most of his life.

He traced his addiction problems to his time in the military hospital where he was treated with psychoactive drugs and large doses of sedatives.

6. Famously Quotable

Yves Saint Laurent was also good a at fashioning a witty turn of phrase. Some of his most popular quips and quotes include:

“Fashions fade, style is eternal.”

“The most beautiful make-up of a woman is passion, but cosmetics are easier to buy.”

“Chanel freed women, and I empowered them.”

“Over the years, I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it.”

7. A Legacy

Yves Saint Laurent died in Paris of brain cancer on June 1, 2008. However, his fashion legacy lives on.

In the recent Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2019 collection, designer Anthony Vaccarello drew directly on the 1980’s themes to bring Saint Laurent’s legacy into contemporary times.

Tell us…what’s your favorite YSL design trend?

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