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When we talk about Yves Saint Laurent we are not just talking about one of the most renowned fashion houses of today. This name carries the story of a legendary couturier who, despite facing numerous obstacles throughout his life, marked an entire era with a new concept of femininity that, to this day, continues to inspire new generations of designers.

Yves Saint Laurent‘s talent manifested itself from an early age, achieving international recognition thanks to his award-winning sketches in different competitions. At just 18 years old, the creator of Le Smoking was hired as an assistant within the brand founded by Christian Dior. In 1957, just three years later, he would go on to replace his mentor as the house‘s chief designer after Dior‘s sudden death.

The subsequent years in the history of the couturier originally from Algeria would be characterized by success and tragedy. Although the brand created by Yves Saint Laurent under his name in the early sixties would come to be regarded as one of the most prominent in history, its founder would wage a prolonged battle against depression, alcoholism and drug addiction during much of his life. Still, Saint Laurent managed to create unsurpassed masterpieces that turned the fashion world upside down, and which are currently preserved as prized treasures within the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, located in Paris.

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Who was Yves Saint Laurent?

yves saint laurent inaugurates two museums, one in paris and one in marrakech pierre berge studio ko saint laurent ysl

Yves Saint Laurent was a French fashion designer and businessman, who founded his own eponymous maison in the early 1960s. Along with Christian Dior and Coco ChanelSaint Laurent is considered one of the designers who turned Paris into the global center of haute couture, as well as a key figure in the revolution that led to the female silhouette at the end of the 20th century.

Yves Henri Saint-Laurent was born in Oran, Algeria, on August 1, 1936, when the African country was still part of France. His family was one of the wealthiest in the region and his mother was a well-known socialite with a refined fashion sense. According to the designer, she spent almost all her time dressing, and he was the one who instilled in her her love for dresses and textiles.

In his childhood years, Saint Laurent was a shy child without many friends, which would later lead him to take refuge in design, sketching spectacular creations. In 1953, shortly after his 17th birthday, he would capture the attention of critics around the world thanks to a cocktail dress he designed that was selected by the International Wool Secretariat as the winner of his last competition.

During his first visit to Paris, the artist met the then director of Vogue Paris, Michel de Brunhoff. The editor advised Yves Saint Laurent to pursue a career in the world of fashion, even encouraging him to move to France to study at the École de la Chambre syndicale. After moving to the French capital in 1954, Saint Laurent sent Brunhoff some of his latest fashion illustrations. Seeing the great similarity between his sketches and those of Christian Dior, the director of Vogue organized a meeting between the two that would result in the hiring of the then apprentice as Dior’s assistant.

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How did Yves Saint Laurent create his brand? 

Yves Saint Laurent served as Dior’s assistant from 1954 to 1957, when a heart attack would put a sudden end to his master’s life. Before his death, Monsieur Dior had formally introduced himself to Yves ‘s mother , stating that she had decided to name her son as successor to her firm. At only 21 years old, Saint Laurent assumed this position sooner than he would have thought. During his first collections he introduced the ‘ trapeze line’ , which would become a success during the sixties by liberating women from fitted waists, without compromising their sense of classic distinction.

In 1960, Yves Saint Laurent was forced to pause his designs after being drafted into military service to serve in the Algerian War of Independence. After a series of nervous breakdowns that would mark the beginning of medication and liquor abuse, he would return home after two months. By then Marc Bohan , Dior’s former assistant, had taken the position of chief designer at the house, forcing Yves to leave and create his own fashion house.

Together with his romantic partner and business partner, Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent founded his eponymous brand in 1961. Saint Laurent ‘s first collections within his new brand did not take long to cause a sensation, their risky, provocative and even eccentric designs for the aesthetics of that time went around the world, marking the fluid and experimental aesthetics of the sixties. In 1966, his brand would change the fashion world forever by introducing its Rive Gauche line,, comprised of more accessible luxury ready-to-wear collections that fascinated the masses.

In 1999, the Yves Saint Laurent brand was acquired by the Gucci group. Three years later, Yves Saint Laurent presented the latest collection for his brand at the Pompidou Museum in Paris.

Today, under the leadership of the Kering group, Yves Saint Laurent continues to be one of the most prestigious fashion houses in the world, whose collections still retain the modern and avant-garde essence that characterized Yves‘ work.

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What are the most emblematic designs of Yves Saint Laurent?

Creaciones insignia de Yves Saint Laurent.

Nude Look

The different creations made from transparent textiles that Saint Laurent debuted in his first creations caused a scandal by leaving the woman’s body exposed in a very daring way for the time. This detail continues to be an essential part of the firm’s most recent collections. Op-Art Dresses

Perhaps one of the most famous models by Yves Saint Laurent is that mini dress with straight cuts, and decorated with paintings in primary colors inspired by the paintings of Piet Mondrian. Saint Laurent continued the charm of this garment with various designs inspired by op-art, a style of visual art designed to create optical illusions. Women’s tuxedo

One of Saint Laurent ‘s most important contributions to the world of fashion was introducing to women’s style the lines and cuts that, until then, were considered exclusive for men. The ultimate representation of that came in 1966 with the design of her first tuxedo designed for the female silhouette. safari jacket

As part of its first ready-to-wear collections, Saint Laurent presented the ‘Saharienne’ jacket , a trench coat provided with pockets on the front and a cut not too tight to the body line that reflected an adventurous style.

What films have been made about Yves Saint Laurent?

Películas sobre Yves Saint Laurent

There are two biographical films of Yves Saint Laurent, both released in 2014: Yves Saint Laurent and Saint Laurent. While the first features Pierre Niney, the second version features Gaspard Ulliel as the legendary designer. 

The two films focus on the couturier’s rise to stardom during his most creative period, as well as his fight against depression and addictions. Yves Saint Laurent goes deeper into the designer’s history and will interest those who want to know more about him, while Saint Laurent features stunning photography and wardrobe that will fascinate fashion lovers.

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Yves Saint Laurent and beauty 

Yves Saint Laurent chose to enter the world of beauty in 1964 with the creation of his first perfume: ‘ And. Since then, the brand founded by the French designer launched numerous fragrances that became icons for both men and women.

Just over half a century after that initial perfume, the Yves Saint Laurent beauty line is considered one of the most prestigious in the world, with a wide variety of products ranging from fragrances to foundations and lipsticks.

The most famous perfumes of Yves Saint Laurent

El diseñador Yves Saint Laurent


To complement the launch of its Chinese-inspired autumn/winter 1977 collection, Yves Saint Laurent chose to launch a new fragrance with notes of patchouli, myrrh, and vanilla. Although a perfume inspired by Eastern culture was not exactly something new, Yves caused a scandal by naming his new creation ‘Opium’, a reference to the drug that the British introduced to China in the 19th century. Mon Paris

In 2016, the Yves Saint Laurent brand launched a new fragrance as a tribute to Paris, the city that inspired some of the designer’s most emblematic creations, and which today continues to be a benchmark of elegance, class and romance.Night of the man

This fragrance explores the robust and masculine side of Yves Saint Laurent. Provided with accents of black pepper, labdanum and vetiver, the perfume refers us to the most provocative and androgynous designs created by the French couturier.Rive Gauche

This perfume is named after the first ready-to-wear boutique opened by Yves Saint Laurent , and is described by some critics as ‘the best floral perfume of all time’. However, much of the fame behind Rive Gauche stems from its promotional campaign, in which Yves Saint Laurent posed nude.

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5 emblematic phrases from Yves Saint Laurent

Betty Catroux Yves Saint Laurent y Loulou de La Falaise.


  • Over the years I have learned that the most important thing about a dress is the woman who wears it.
  • Each of my clothes is born from a gesture. A dress that does not reflect or make you think of a gesture is not appropriate. Only after having found that gesture, can you choose the final color or shape.
  • Fashion is not only made to beautify women, but also to give them security and confidence, and allow them to accept themselves.
  • The most beautiful garment that can dress a woman are the arms of the man she loves. But for those who have not yet been fortunate enough to find this happiness, here I am.
  • I tried to show that fashion is an art. Therefore, I followed the advice of my teacher, Christian Dior and the timeless lessons of Mademoiselle Chanel. I created an era, and tried to foresee what tomorrow will be.
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