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Saint Laurent, Yves

SAINT LAURENT, Yves

French designer

Born: Yves Henri Donat Mathieu Saint Laurent in Oran, Algeria, 1 August 1936. Education: Studied at L'École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, 1954. Career: Independent clothing stylist, Paris, 1953-54; designer/partner, 1954-57, chief designer, Dior, Paris, 1957-60; began designing for theater and film, 1959; founder/designer, Yves Saint Laurent, Paris, from 1962; Rive Gauche ready-to-wear line introduced, 1966; menswear line introduced, 1974; firm purchased by Elf-Sanofi SA, 1993; designer Elber Albaz hired, 1998-2000; acquired by Gucci Group NV, 1999; Tom Ford took over as creative director, 2000; renovated Madison Avenue store reopened, 2001; retired from designing, 2002; fragrances include Y 1964; Rive Gauche, 1971; Opium, 1978; Paris, 1983; Champagne, (renamed Yvresse, 1996) 1993; Opium relaunch, 1995; Opium for Men, 1996; Baby Doll, 1999; Nu, 2001. Exhibitions: Yves Saint Laurent, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983; Yves Saint Laurent et le Théâtre, Musée des Arts de la Mode, Paris, 1986; Yves Saint Laurent, 28 Ans de Création, Musée des Arts de la Mode, 1986; retrospective, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, 1987. Awards: International Wool Secretariat award, 1954; Neiman Marcus award, 1958; Harper's Bazaar award, 1966; Council of Fashion Designers of America award, 1981; CFDA Lifetime Achievement award, 1999; Fifi Fragrance award (for Baby Doll ), 2000. Address: 5 avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris, France. Website: www.yslonline.com.

Publications

By SAINT LAURENT:

Books

Yves Saint Laurent, New York & London, 1984.

Yves Saint Laurent par Yves Saint Laurent, Paris, 1986.

Bergé, Pierre, and Yves Saint Laurent, Yves Saint Laurent, London & New York, 1996, 1997.

Yves Saint Laurent: Forty Years of Creation, New York, 1998.

Love, by Yves Saint Laurent, New York, 2000.

On SAINT LAURENT:

Books

Lynam, Ruth, ed., Couture: An Illustrated History of the Great Paris Designers and Their Creations, New York, 1972.

Madsen, Axel, Living for Design: The Yves Saint Laurent Story, New York, 1979.

Milbank, Caroline Rennolds, Couture: The Great Designers, New York, 1985.

Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Yves Saint Laurent et le Théâtre [exhibition catalogue], Paris, 1986.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Yves Saint Laurent, Retrospectives [exhibition catalogue], Sydney, New South Wales, 1987.

Perschetz, Lois, ed., W, The Designing Life, New York, 1987.

Yves Saint Laurent: Images of Design [exhibition catalogue], New York, 1988.

Howell, Georgina, Sultans of Style: 30 Years of Fashion and Passion 1960-1990, London, 1990.

Benaïm, Laurence, Yves Saint Laurent, Paris, 1993, 1995.

Martin, Richard, and Harold Koda, Orientalism: Visions of the East in Western Dress [exhibition catalogue], Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994.

Stegemeyer, Anne, Who's Who in Fashion, Third Edition, New York, 1996.

Rawsthorn, Alice, Yves Saint Laurent, A Biography, London, 1996, 1997.

Duras, Marguerite, Yves Saint Laurent and Fashion Photography, Munich, 1998.

Tierney, Tom, Yves Saint Laurent Fashion Review, Mineola, New York, 1999.

Articles

"YSL Models Rive Gauche for Men in His Marrakesh Home," in Vogue (London), 1 October 1969.

"Yves Saint Laurent: His Very Special World," in McCall's (New York), January 1970.

"Mary Russell Interviews Saint Laurent," in Vogue (New York), 1 November 1972.

"Yves Saint Laurent Talks to Bianca Jagger," in Interview, January 1973.

Julian, P., "Les années 20 revues dans les années 70 chez Yves Saint Laurent," in Connaissance des Arts (Paris), December 1973.

Heilpern, John, and Yves Saint Laurent, "Yves Saint Laurent Lives," in The Observer Magazine (London), 5 June 1977.

"Designers of Influence: Yves Saint Laurent, the Great Educator," in Vogue (London), June 1978.

"Bravo: 20 Years of Saint Laurent," in Vogue (London), April 1982.

"A Salute to Yves Saint Laurent," in the New York Times Magazine, 4 December 1983.

Brubach, Holly, "The Truth in Fiction," in The Atlantic Monthly (Boston, Massachusetts), May 1984.

Savage, Percy, "Yves Saint Laurent," in Art and Design (London), August 1985.

Berge, P., "Yves Saint Laurent der Modezeichner," in Du (Zurich), No. 10, 1986.

"Un équilibre définitif: Saint Laurent Rive Gauche," in Vogue (Paris), February 1986.

Griggs, Barbara, "All About Yves," in The Observer (London), 25 May 1986.

Mauries, Patrick, "Yves," in Vogue (Paris), June 1986.

"Le triomphe de Saint Laurent," in L'Officiel (Paris), June 1986.

Pringle, Colombe, "Saint Laurent: sanctifié il entre au musée," in Elle (Paris), June 1986.

Worthington, Christa, "Saint Laurent: Life as a Legend," in Women's Wear Daily (New York), 18 July 1986.

"Yves Only," in Vogue (London), September 1987.

"Prince Charmant. Bernard Sanz: L'homme de Saint Laurent," in Profession Textile (Paris), 27 May 1988.

"Saint Laurent pour toujours," in Profession Textile (Paris), 30 September 1988.

Duras, Marguerite, "Saint Laurent par Duras," in Elle (Paris), 31 October 1988.

Hyde, Nina, and Albert Allart, "The Business of Chic," in the National Geographic (Washington, D.C.), July 1989.

Howell, Georgina, "The Secrets of Saint Laurent," in The Sunday Times Magazine (London), 2 July 1989.

, "Best Couturier: Yves Saint Laurent," in The Sunday Times Magazine (London), 16 July 1989.

Rafferty, Diane, Charles van Rensselaer and Thomas Cunneen, "The Many Faces of Yves: The Designer of the Half Century," in Connoisseur, February 1990.

Menkes, Suzy, "Yves of the Revolution," in the Sunday Express Magazine (London), 22 April 1990.

Germain, Stephanie, "All About Yves," in Paris Passion (Paris), October 1990.

Roberts, Michael, and André Leon Talley, "Unveiling Saint Laurent," in Interview (New York), June 1991.

Smith, Liz, "Thirty Years at Fashion's Cutting Edge," in The Times (London), 27 January 1992.

"Yves Saint Laurent, King of Couture," interview, in Elle (New York), February 1992.

Brubach, Holly, "Fanfare in a Minor Key," in The New Yorker, 24 February 1992.

White, Lesley, "The Saint," in Vogue (London), November 1994.

Kramer, Jane, "The Impresario's Last Act, in the New Yorker (New York), 21 November 1994.

Schiro, Anne-Marie, "Yves Saint Laurent's Shocking New Color: Black," in the New York Times (New York), 22 March 1995.

Menkes, Suzy, "YSL Plays Safe While Valentino Shines at Night," in the International Herald Tribune (Paris), 22 March 1995.

"Saint Laurent: A Fitting End," in WWD, 22 March 1995.

Menkes, Suzy, "A New Generation in Ready-to-Wear: Alber Elbaz Gets Aboard at YSL," in the International Herald Tribune, 9 June 1998.

"YSL Coming to Receive CFDA Award," in WWD, 29 March 1999.

Menkes, Suzy, "Gucci Buys House of YSL for $1-Billion," in the International Herald Tribune, 16 November 1999.

, "New Team, Same Theme at YSL," in the International Herald Tribune, 20 January 2000.

Socha, Miles, "Ford's YSL: Full Steam Ahead," in WWD, 12 January 2001.

"At Yves Saint Laurent, Tom's Triumph," in WWD, 15 March 2001.

Menkes, Suzy, "YSL and the Secrets of Classic Couture," in the International Herald Tribune, 12 July 2001.

Ozzard, Janet, "Tom's Rive Gauche," in WWD, 6 September 2001.

Ozzard, Janet, et al, "Tom Ford Expands YSL Store," in DNR, 10 September 2001.

Diderich, Joelle, "Fashion Legend Yves Saint Laurent Retires," from Reuters Newswire, 7 January 2002.

Cowdy, Hannah, "YSL: Adieu to a Fashion Generation," available online at ABCNews, www.ABCNews.com, 7 January 2002.

***

A great adaptor, Yves Saint Laurent responds in his designs to history, art, and literature. Vast ranges of themes are incorporated into his work, from the Ballet Russes to the writings of Marcel Proust, who inspired his taffeta gowns of 1971; the paintings of Picasso to the minimalist work of Mondrian and the de Stijl movement, shown in the primary colors of his geometrically blocked wool jersey dresses of 1965.

Saint Laurent has a great love of the theatre. He has designed costumes for many stage productions during his long career and the theatre is an important source of ideas for his couture collections. Flamboyant ensembles, such as the Shakespeare wedding dress of brocade and damask of 1980 and his extravagant series of garments inspired by a romantic vision of Russian dress, reflect his passion for theatrical costume.

Less successful have been his attempts to engage with countercultural movements such as the 1960 collection based on the bohemian Left Bank look. The criticism leveled by the press on being confronted with the avant garde on the couture catwalk led to Saint Laurent's replacement as head designer for Dior, even though his 1958 trapeze line had been an enormous success and he had been fêted as the savior of Parisian couture. At this time the House of Dior was responsible for nearly half of France's fashion exports, so there was a heavy burden of financial responsibility on Saint Laurent's shoulders.

The 1960 collection appropriated the Left Bank style with knitted turtlenecks and black leather jackets, crocodile jackets with mink collars, anda design which was to crop up again and again in his repertoirethe fur jacket with knitted sleeves. In 1968 Saint Laurent produced a tailored trouser collection reflecting his sympathy with the cause of the student marchers who had brought the streets of Paris to a standstill. The clothes were black and accessorized with headbands and fringes.

Where Saint Laurent sets the standards for world fashion is in his feminizing of the basic shapes of the male wardrobe. Like Chanel before him, he responded to the subtleties of masculine tailoring seeking to provide a similar sort of style for women. He produced a whole series of elegant day clothes, such as the shirt dress, which became a staple of the sophisticated woman's wardrobe of the 1970s. Saint Laurent is justly acclaimed for his sharply tailored suits with skirts or trousers, le smoking (a simple black suit with satin lapels based on the male tuxedo, which became an alternative to the frothily feminine evening gown), safari jackets, brass buttoned pea jackets, flying suitsin fact many of the chic classics of postwar women's style.

Saint Laurent's designs contain no rigid shaping or over-elaborate cutting but depend on a perfection of line and a masterful understanding of printed textiles and the use of luxurious materials. He worked with silk printers to produce glowing fabric designs incorporating a brilliant palette of clashing colors such as hot pink, violet, and sapphire blue. A sharp contrast is produced with his simple, practical daywear and romantic, exotic eveningwear, which is more obviously seductive with its extensive beadwork, embroidery, satin, and sheer fabrics such as silk chiffon.

Less interested in fashion than in style, Saint Laurent is and will always be a classicist, designing elegant, tasteful, and sophisticated apparel, perfectly handcrafted in the manner of the old couturiers. He did, however, use industrial methods to produce his Rive Gauche ready-to-wear line, created in 1966, and sold in his own franchised chain of boutiques. The popular line was later taken over by Alber Elbaz, who had worked for Guy Laroche, in 1998, and then by Tom Ford in 2000.

There was been a radical change in the small company founded by Yves Saint Laurent and business partner Pierre Bergé in 1961. It became a massive financial conglomerate, listed on the Paris Bourse, the result of profitable licensing deals. In the 1990s the firm changed ownership several times, ending up as part of the Gucci Group in 1999. Called "fashion's shiniest trophy," by the International Herald Tribune (16 November 1999), the YSL acquisition was another example of the fashion industry's tightening consolidation.

In the 21st century, YSL remained an acclaimed couture house, though its namesake and Rive Gauche designer Tom Ford rarely saw eye to eye. In January 2002, however, such creative differences were moot: Saint Laurent announced he was leaving the firm that bore his name and retiring. Roundly considered the last of the true haute couturiers, the industry lost one of its most elegant and inspired purveyors.

Caroline Cox;

updated by Nelly Rhodes

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Yves St. Laurent

Yves St. Laurent

Beginning his career in the late 1950s as the head fashion designer at the internationally renowned House of Dior in Paris, Yves St. Laurent (born 1936) quickly rose to become one of the most talented designers of haute couture of the twentieth century.

Yves St. Laurent possesses an unwavering confidence in his ability to design beautiful clothes. Innovative in his approach to style—he has adapted everything from 1930s platform shoes to military jackets to see-through dresses for display on Paris fashion runways. St. Laurent drew on his own sense of line, drape, and color, as well as inspirations gained from 1940s menswear, the paintings of Pablo Picasso, the designs of Coco Channel, and other influences, to make his name synonymous with style, and familiar to generations of sophisticated, fashion-conscious women and men. Through his many long-term friendships with such high-profile individuals as artist Andy Warhol, actress Catherine Deneuve, and dancer Rudolph Nureyev, he has become a recognizable symbol of the continuing interrelationship between high fashion and other contemporary arts.

A Reflective Childhood in Algiers

St. Laurent was born in Oran, Algeria, on August 1, 1936. His father, Charles Mathieu St. Laurent, was an attorney, while his mother, Lucienne-Andree St. Laurent, looked after Yves and his younger sisters, Michele and Brigitte. A quiet, emotional, and introspective child, he showed little interest in sports or reading, preferring to create visual art by designing miniature stage sets and costumes. Following the wishes of his father, St. Laurent applied himself to his secondary studies, earning his baccalaureat degree at the Lycee d'Oran in 1954.

By this point, it had become clear to his parents that St. Laurent's talents lay someplace other than the law. In fact, despite being untrained in fashion or design, one of his sketches had been awarded third place in the annual International Wool Secretariat contest held in Paris in 1953. He was encouraged to travel to Paris, his portfolio of fashion and costume sketches and a letter of recommendation to Michel de Brunhoff in hand. Brunhoff, then editor-in-chief of the French edition of Vogue magazine, was a powerful arbiter of fashion, and he was impressed by St. Laurent's sense of style and a sophistication surprising in one so young. The editor was also struck by several of St. Laurent's designs, which were similar to some Brunhoff had seen in the upcoming collection of consummate designer Christian Dior. It was obvious that the two men must meet.

Adopted as Protege of Leader of House of Dior

Dior had been the reining king of high fashion since 1947, when his first collection had impressed Paris runway crowds with its sleek lines. When he met St. Laurent in 1954 and studied his portfolio of sketches, he understood what Brunhoff had seen: a similar sophistication and style. St. Laurent's success at the International Wool Secretariat— three first-place awards out of a possible four—convinced Dior to take an interest in the young fashion designer. In 1955, at the age of 19, St. Laurent found himself working as an assistant in the most prestigious design firm in the world: the House of Dior.

The world of high fashion in the mid-twentieth century was a competitive one, dominated by a few top "names" who based their design houses in Paris. During the 1950s, the name Christian Dior was most well known in a group that also included Karl Lagerfeld, Pierre Cardin, Hubert de Givenchy, and Coco Chanel. His affiliation with Dior, as well as his obvious talent, quickly elevated St. Laurent to more than just an assistant. When Dior passed away suddenly in October 1957, it was no surprise that St. Laurent was quickly named to the position of chief designer of the House of Dior. Some feared that the House would fall upon its namesake's death—and with it the jobs of over 2,000 people. St. Laurent's 1958 collection assuaged any such pessimism. His "Trapeze" collection, which featured a dress cut narrow at the shoulders and then swinging out in an "A" line at a new, refreshing shorter skirt length, impressed runway crowds and was quickly picked up by manufacturers. At the gala following the successful showing, St. Laurent was introduced to Pierre Berge, a young man with a talent for business. Despite, or perhaps because of their differing temperaments, the quiet, high-strung designer and the savvy, public-minded businessman would become lovers and eventual business partners.

Personal and Professional Partnership

Credited for saving the House of Dior from ruin, St. Laurent grew more confident in his talents. The conservative Dior following viewed his 1959 designs, with their curved lines and longer, hobbled skirts, as controversial. However, by the following summer, a more feminine look graced Dior's lithe runway models. Unfortunately, by the fall of 1960 the house's chief designer was removed from his post, not through lack of popularity but because of France's mandatory requirement of 27 months of military service. Suffering from a nervous breakdown only months into his required service, St. Laurent was hospitalized. Berge aided his recovery by encouraging the designer to do costume work for several Paris theatre productions. While the House of Dior, unwilling to risk its future on the recovering designer, dismissed St. Laurent, Berge acquired $700,000 from U.S. businessman J. Mack Robinson as start-up funds for a new design house: the first Yves St. Laurent haute couture collection debuted on January 29, 1962.

Over the next several years, St. Laurent would introduce many collections via the Paris fashion runways, each with a trademark theme, and each accompanied by a gala party to which fashion magazine editors, buyers, and wealthy arbiters of modern fashion would flock to see and be seen. Some, like his "Arc" line created while he was still at the House of Dior in late 1958, would rouse only lukewarm enthusiasm. Others, such as his "Mondrian" dress designs of 1965 and the trouser suits, menswear look, and safari-styled jackets of the late 1960s and 1970s, quickly found their way to upscale versions in major department stores worldwide. The popularity of the St. Laurent look was further aided by the designer's close association with actress Catherine Deneuve, and his costume designs for the 1965 Louis Bunuel film Belle de jour.

During the 1960s and 1970s, design houses expanded their creative efforts beyond textiles, and introduced fragrances to a public eager to adopt all that a "name" designer had to offer. While his women's fragrances, "Y", "Rive Gauche," and "Opium"—released in 1960, 1971, and 1978 respectively—were newsworthy, St. Laurent's move into the men's market made the news outside fashion circles. While his first showing of men's clothing had occurred during the 1969 runway season, his "YSL for Men" line of fragrances was marketed through a photograph of the designer sans any fashion at all. This nude photograph of St. Laurent, while appreciated for its aesthetic merits and adopted as an icon by gays during the 1970s, infuriated many in the fashion community and was banned from the pages of several periodicals.

Fashion Industry Moves to Mainstream

High fashion was traditionally produced as a collection of one-of-a-kind garments designed to catch the eye of the press and those few wealthy individuals able to afford them. The new "styles" filtered down to mainstream markets through the manufacturers that incorporated them into their own lines. During the 1960s several noted designers had begun to market a line of pret-a-porter or ready-to-wear clothes: garments bearing a designer label but mass-produced for marketing to less affluent consumers. In 1971, Berge and St. Laurent also made the move to pret-a-porter, opening the first St. Laurent Rive Gauche showroom. In conjunction with this effort to woo a more mainstream consumer, St. Laurent's designs began to stabilize along classic lines, his more creative efforts now focused on theatrical costumes designed for theatres in Paris and New York. One exception to this was his 1976 collection, which he based on the colorful, abstract costumes created for the Ballet Russe by painter Leon Bakst in the 1920s.

Ill-Health and Business Turmoil

While St. Laurent had suffered from health problems in the late 1970s, he continued to produce lavish shows through the end of the decade. However, in the late 1970s and into the next decade rumors began circulating that he had contracted AIDS. While his public appearances at shows and parties repeatedly put such rumors to rest, it was noted that such appearances by the designer were becoming less and less frequent. However, through the efforts of Berge, the Yves St. Laurent name continued to flourish, through licensing arrangements with manufacturers, advertising campaigns, and the establishment of Rive Gauche boutiques in several major cities, including New York.

The relationship between the St. Laurent and Berge had become strained, due in part to a change in their personal relationship. Although they appeared in public together as honors were heaped upon them for their joint accomplishment in building the Yves St. Laurent name, by the late 1980s the interests of the two men had become diametrically opposed. In 1986, with the help of an Italian businessman, Berge acquired control of the YSL perfume division.

In 1989, the Yves St. Laurent business entity went public, selling shares on the Paris stock exchange and removing all but creative control from the designer. While his 1990 haute couture collection proved to be a success, the stress of the company's transition took its toll on St. Laurent, and he was admitted to a French hospital. Within two years the company was openly for sale, with business negotiations officiated by Berge. In 1993, the Sanofi Corporation purchased Yves St. Laurent for $650 million. The sale made both St. Laurent and Berge rich, although Berge was fined on suspicion of insider trading in conjunction with the business deal.

Despite the dismantling of his business empire, St. Laurent received numerous accolades for his talents as a designer. In 1985, he was made a Chevalier of France's Legion of Honor, one of his nation's most esteemed awards. Shortly thereafter, a retrospective of his works was organized and toured throughout Europe, China, Australia, and the United States. Through the 1990s, St. Laurent would continue to design both the YSL haute couture and pret-a-porter collections, continuing to refine his timeless, elegant designs for sophisticated women.

Further Reading

Lambert, Eleanor, The World of Fashion: People, Places, Resources, R. R. Bowker, 1976.

Rawsthorn, Alice, Yves Saint Laurent: A Biography, Doubleday, 1996.

Wilson, Elizabeth, Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity, Virago Press, 1985.

Yves Saint Laurent, edited by Diana Vreeland, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983.

Times Saturday Review, July 21, 1990. □

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Laurent, Yves Saint

YVES SAINT LAURENT

French designer Yves Saint Laurent (1936) was born in Oran, Algeria, and, at age seventeen, settled in Paris, France. There he attempted to secure work as a fashion and costume designer. Two years later, after the publication of several of his sketches, he was invited to meet the celebrated designer Christian Dior (19051957). Dior immediately hired the young designer and became his mentor. Then Dior suddenly died. At the age of twenty-one Saint Laurent was designated Dior's successor, becoming chief designer at the House of Dior.

Saint Laurent scored a major success with his first show, in which he presented what was dubbed the "trapeze" look. Trapeze skirts were flat-fronted and flared out from the waist in an almost triangular fashion. In 1960 he launched the elegant "Beat Look," spotlighting knit sleeves, turtlenecks, and black leather jackets bordered in fur. Two years later Saint Laurent left the House of Dior and opened his own fashion house. He soon became an expert at adapting his haute couture (high fashion) designs for average, middle-class, style-conscious women.

The 1960s found Saint Laurent offering additional innovative designs: the Mondrian dress (1965), which borrowed the geometrical shapes found in the paintings of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian (18721944); "le smoking," an androgynous, or gender-neutral, women's tuxedo/smoking jacket (1966); and the jumpsuit, a one-piece suit consisting of shirt and pants or shorts (1968). He designed pea coats, safari jackets, peasant blouses and dresses, and see-through blouses. He incorporated pop art into his designs, which during the 1960s was a trendy art style that included such familiar images as product packaging and newspaper comic strips. In 1966 he started a line of Rive Gauche ready-to-wear (off-the-rack versus custom-made) clothing, and he began designing menswear in 1974. Over the decades, the Yves Saint Laurent (or "YSL") name has been licensed to a range of products, including eyeglasses, bath and bed linens, furs, and perfume. He also was the first major designer to employ models of varied ethnic backgrounds.

From the late 1960s on, more and more women entered the workplace. To accommodate their needs, Saint Laurent designed work attire that included pants and blazers rather than skirts and dresses. These innovations were not immediately accepted. At first, the classic Saint Laurent pantsuit was not considered appropriate work-place apparel for women. Occasionally, women wearing them were turned away from fancier restaurants.

In 1983 the Museum of Modern Art in New York City presented an exhibit spotlighting a quarter-century of Saint Laurent's creations. It was the first time a still-active designer was so honored. In October 1998 Saint Laurent introduced his final ready-to-wear collection, and the following year he sold his business to Gucci. Saint Laurent announced his retirement in 2002. Yves Saint Laurent's life and career may be summed up by what is perhaps his most celebrated declaration: "Fashions fade, style is eternal."

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Saint Laurent, Yves

Yves Saint Laurent (ēv săN lôräN´), 1936–2008, French fashion designer, b. Oran, Algeria, as Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent. Moving to Paris at 17, he ultimately established houses of couture and boutiques there and in New York. He was the foremost assistant to Christian Dior and became his designated successor as head of the House of Dior at the age of 21. His early collections were noted for their maverick quality, and his work of the 1960s and 70s helped to democratize the world of fashion. His last Dior collection (1960) featured the "chic beatnik" look: knitted turtlenecks, thigh-length boots, and short black leather jackets. He opened his own Paris house in 1961, and in the following years revolutionized the fashion world by creating trousers for day and evening wear and broad-shouldered suits that were images of power for women. His other designs include sophisticated tweed suits, the Mondrian dress, pleated skirts, safari jackets, pea coats, updated peasant costumes, le smoking (tuxedos for women), and heavy costume jewelry. His focus on an androgynous look was extremely influential in the fashion of the 1970s. He also designed for the Ballets de Roland Petit. By the mid-1970s, at the height of his success, his design empire included sweaters, neckties, eyeglass cases, linens, children's clothes, and fragrances. Gucci acquired his ready-to-wear and cosmetics divisions in 2000. Saint Laurent retired and closed his house in 2002.

See D. Teboul, Yves Saint Laurent: 5, Avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris (2002); A. Drake, The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris (2006); two documentary films dir. by D. Teboul, one of the same title as his book, the other Yves Saint Laurent: His Life and Times (both: 2003).

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Saint Laurent, Yves

Saint Laurent, Yves (1936– ) French fashion designer, b. Algeria. An assistant to Christian Dior, he established his own Paris house in 1961. Saint-Laurent's ‘chic beatnik’ look epitomised 1960s Parisian style with his combination of turtleneck knitwear and skin-tight trousers. In 1966 he launched his first ready-to-wear shop. Saint Laurent retired in 2002.

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