The Legend ~

I’ve been a fan of Yves Saint Laurent as far back as I can remember.  I love everything from the French label’s clothing lines to the beauty products, and everything in between.  The iconic label is synonymous with elegance, innovation and flair.

A handsome, young designer starting out

Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent, known as Yves Saint Laurent, born in French Algeria in 1936. Saint Laurent became fascinated by clothes at an early age. He already had a solid portfolio of sketches when he first arrived in Paris in 1953, age 17.

Pop Art dress
Since Yves Saint Laurent’s death at age 71 in June 2008, every possible superlative has been used to describe him. ‘Fashion Icon’, ‘Giant of couture’, ’Magician’, ‘The greatest fashion designer of the 20th century’.
Yves Saint Laurent pictured with a drawing of his in asymetrical cocktail dress design that won him first prize in a 1954 fashion drawing competition, sponsored by the International Wool Secratariat, in Paris
Outside his first London Rive Gauche shop on opening day Sept. 10, 1969, Yves Saint Laurent poses with Betty Catroux, left, and Loulou de la Falaise. All are attired in Yves Saint Laurent’s ground breaking safari collection.
Dior 1958

Shortly after receiving the prize, he met with the editor of Paris Vogue , Michel de Brunhoff, who encouraged him to attend the Ecole Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. While attending the school he created a portfolio which further impressed de Brunhoff, prompting the editor to introduce him to Christian Dior. 


Dovima in the first dress Yves designed for Dior ~ “Soiree de Paris”
Like de Brunhoff, Dior immediately recognized Saint Laurent’s potential and hired the young man as his first and only design assistant. Dior incorporated many of Saint Laurent’s design ideas into his collections, including a long, narrow evening dress with an asymmetric swag of material. When Dior succumbed to a fatal heart attack in 1957, Saint Laurent was named the chief designer of Dior’s couture house.
Saint Laurent achieved instant fame in 1958 at the age of 21 when he showed his Trapeze collection, his first after the death of Christian Dior

Y-Mail coin purse ~ I ♥ mine. It fits perfectly in a clutch, keeping your $$ and CC’s organized

Following Dior’s tradition of dictating a new silhouette each season, Saint Laurent’s first collection was the well-received “Trapeze” line, which introduced a trapezoidal silhouette. The House of Dior built its reputation by catering to wealthy, middle-aged woman. In 1960 Saint Laurent, who was attracted by the emerging youth movement, began designing couture interpretations of street clothes instead of designing for Dior’s loyal clientele.
     Yves Saint Laurent in the grand salon of his apartment on Rue de Babylone with model Sibyl Buck, October 27, 1995. They are surrounded by the Surrealist-period Léger painting The Black Profile (1928), sold by the artist’s widow, and Jean Dunand’s 1925 Art Deco brass-and-lacquer vase.
Marina Schiano in Evening Gown ~ Fall/Winter 1970
Saint Laurent would say of his mentor: “Dior fascinated me. I couldn’t speak in front of him. He taught me the basis of my art. Whatever was to happen next, I never forgot the years spent at his side.” However in 1960, like many Frenchmen of his age, Saint Laurent was called up to fight in his native Algeria, where an independence war was under way.
Twiggy ~ French Vogue, August, 1968
Less than three weeks later he won an exemption on health grounds, but when he returned to Paris he was to learn that Dior had already found a replacement for him, in the person of Marc Bohan. With his close lover, Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent resolved to strike out on his own with Bergé taking care of the business side of the label.
Smock Suit
Saint Laurent frequently used ethnic themes in his garments, as well as bright colors contrasted with black. His day clothes have a slightly masculine flavour, and his luxurious evening wear is tinged with fantasy. He is famous for creating “Le Smoking” tuxedo suit, see-through blouses, peasant blouses, bolero jackets, pantsuits, and smocks.
“Le Smoking” Suit introduced in 1966 ~ worn by Lauren Bacall, Betty Catroux and Loulou de la Falaise, among others.  Indeed, it is smoking!
Palette Y-Mail highlighter ~  I purchased this last week and love it.  It gives a beautiful finish.  It’s my love for this product that inspired this post ♥
Saint Laurent revolutionized women’s wardrobes at a time when women were revolutionizing their role in society.  Among his many fans in his native France was the actress Catherine Deneuve, who was always to be seen at his shows.
Catherine and Yves on the set of Belle du Jour ~ The dresses and the coats worn in this film are some of Yves Saint-Laurent’s finest work
At a press conference announcing his retirement in January 2002, Yves Saint Laurent summarized his philosophy of fashion thus: “I have believed for a long time now that fashion is not merely there to embellish women. I believe it is also a meant to reassure them, to give them confidence, to enable them to assert themselves.”
1996 marks two surprising developments concerning the presentation of his new collections. In Summer of 1996, Saint Laurent was the first courturier to show his Haute Couture show live on the internet. The other move was the decision to stop making big fashion shows for his Pret-a-Porter collection after 30 years of doing so.
Veruschka in safari suit ~ French Vogue, August, 1968
According to fellow-designer Christian Lacroix, the reason for Saint Laurent’s success was his astonishing versatility. There had, Lacroix said, been other great designers but none with the same range.  “Chanel, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga and Dior all did extraordinary things. But they worked within a particular style,” he explained. “Yves Saint Laurent is much more versatile, like a combination of all of them. I sometimes think he’s got the form of Chanel with the opulence of Dior and the wit of Schiaparelli.”

With his long-time muses French supermodel Laetitia Casta, left, and long-time friend French actress Catherine Deneuve at Paris’s Pompidou Centre in 2002
In January 2002, the 65-year-old designer announced his retirement. Paying tribute to his mentors, including Christian Dior, Balenciaga, Schiaparelli and Chanel, he revealed that his decision was based on a disgust with an industry that had become ruled more by commercial gain than art.
“I have nothing in common with this new world of fashion, which has been reduced to mere window-dressing,” he said. “Elegance and beauty have been banished.” My thoughts as well.  The news came just 16 days before he presented his final haute couture collection. In a fitting end to his 40-year career, the show constituted a thorough retrospective of his work: over an hour and a half long, it featured over 250 outfits, 40 of them new designs, and 100 models.
One of the his most revolutionary moments was the “Ballet Russe” collection of 1976, where the designer introduced maxi-skirts and luxe takes on traditional Eastern European peasant garb to the French elite
Dior S/S 1958
A tearful Yves Saint Laurent took his final bow as his long-time muse, Catherine Deneuve, sang Ma Plus Belle Histoire d’Amour. Stefano Pilati, who replaced Tom Ford in 2005, continues Yves Saint Laurent’s message that “dressing is a way of life”.
Au Revoir, mes amis!  xoxo, B

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  • Reply Castles Crowns and Cottages March 6, 2010 at 5:05 am

    Bonjour ma belle amie! First of all, this is a luscious post filled with the magic of my favorite Parisian designer. Not only do you graciously present his stunning genius and elegant history, but you also personify him in a way that touches your heart; I so love how he stated that fashion wasn't to just embellish a woman, but to give her confidence and help her to assert herself. Now that is an artist and a wonderful soul!!!! Secondly, thank you mille fois, for coming to my post and leaving such kind well-wishes on this special day for me. Ruben is truly a gem, and is one of those people that cares for everyone. It has been a fabulous 28 years that has kept me feeling like I am still 24 years old….I wish you nothing but love, good health and happiness with your loved ones, always!!! BISOUS! Anita

  • Reply Bonjour Madame March 6, 2010 at 6:37 am

    I enjoyed reading about YSL. What an interesting and long career he had. That highlighter is gorgeous!

  • Reply Marsi March 6, 2010 at 8:57 am

    A wonderful retrospective on one of fashion's greats. Three or four years ago, I read a book about the intersection of the careers of Saint-Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld, who both started in fashion at the same time and were, early in their careers, thick as thieves, “The Beautiful Fall,” by Alicia Drake. I learned so much about both designers and really came to understand both so well. Great book.

    Wouldn't you kill to be in Paris for the Saint-Laurent retrospective at the Petit Palais this spring/summer?

  • Reply Castles Crowns and Cottages March 7, 2010 at 5:15 am

    Oh, I just had to tell you that yesterday, for our anniversary, we went out all day and night for eating and we found a darling little bakery that had the finest macaroons! AND THEN, we went to Trader Joes (are you familiar with them?) and we found macaroons for HALF THE PRICE and just as good!

    JOY! Anita

  • Reply Castles Crowns and Cottages March 8, 2010 at 4:11 am

    Oh you are such a dear to visit again! Oh yes, you must check out Trader Joe's macaroons…imported from Paris! Just as good as the expensive ones from the little bakery. However, we had so much fun running around on Saturday for our anniversary, that time, and spending a little more money that day was all well worth it!!!

    I wish you a splendid Monday and fabulous week! Bisous, Anita

  • Reply Couture Carrie March 8, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Exquisite post, darling!
    You are so thorough!

    Love that pic of Marina Schiano in Evening Gown …


  • Reply Couture Millinery Atelier. March 9, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Such an exquisite post on YSL! He is one of my most beloved designers :-). I have been lucky enough to get a black patent back with YSl address on it and it is my every day treasure. Also, on my last trip to Paris I found an amazing vintage necklace by YSL which belonged to one of his first collections. I will make a post about this necklace later. Just the thought of him touching this necklace has so much meaning to me.:-) I am wishing you wonderful week and, please, stop by my Blog to pick your beautiful Award. 🙂

  • Reply Bunny, THE PARIS HOUSE March 11, 2010 at 10:13 am

    I have so enjoyed this post, YSL's work is genius and will live on forever. I have that clutch and adore it and use it often.

  • Reply Pink Peony May 27, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Love the song. I have it playing on my ipod all the time! Plus love the fashions in the post 🙂

  • Reply gamedog December 6, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Hey its me Anthony….. You know the guy who lives in your house…. your son…… if you know me you will reply. ;P

  • Reply Champagne Macarons December 6, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    I love you A-Man!!!

  • Reply Fay January 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    hello Brenda Im awarding you the Stylish Bloggers award may all your dreams come true in 2011 Please see my blog for details fay xx

  • Reply NIGEL NO TRENDS February 13, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Fantastic post. I was googling the year YSL opened in London in the 60's and this post came up. Very imformative. Thank you

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