Monday, June 2, 2008

THE CULTURE OF FASHION: Haute Couture Powerhouse, Yves Saint Laurent, Dies at 71

Yves Saint Laurent-Photo courtesy of

Innovative, fashion pioneer, Yves Saint Laurent died Sunday night at his Paris home of a brain tumor. He was 71.

Sharing the spotlight with other legendary designers Christian Dior and Coco Chanel, Saint Laurent was considered to have dominated 20th century fashion as designer, artist, and creative genius. Ironically, it was Dior who gave St. Laurent his start, advised by then Paris Vogue editor, Michel de Brunhoff, to hire St. Laurent. The young designer was quickly thrust into the limelight following the untimely death of Dior three years later.

YSL-Nicole, Patent leather-Photo courtesy of

Frail and sickly most of his life, St. Laurent's health struggles did nothing to dim the designers passion nor staunch his prolific career; a career that spanned 4 decades and clothed the likes of fashion icons Paloma Picasso and Bianca Jagger.

YSL-2008 Fall collection-photo courtesy of

St. Laurent, born Yves Henri Donat Mathieu Saint Laurent, referred to his method of design as "the total silence of clothing" according to an Agence France Presse article. He created an ethereal connection between his clothing and the human form.

The iconic designer was also known and admired for a series of "firsts," having pioneered the masculine look for women, dressing them in pantsuits and tuxedos. Forever pushing the envelope, St. Laurent was the first to recognize the beauty of the black model, readily gracing his design house as well as his runway shows with women of color.

Tribute Sandal-Photo courtesy of

Never one to be pigeonholed, St. Laurent remained one step ahead in the latest trends, often setting them himself. His YSL logo was recognizable to even the most fashion illiterate. Highlights of his career were the creation of the Rive Gauche ready-to-wear label and his controversial fragrance, Opium, which he launched in the mid 1970s.

When I remember the many photo spreads of St. Laurent's clothing, shoes, and accessories, I realize that what I admired most about him as a designer was his uncanny ability to perfectly dress both men and women. Though many of his women's fashions harbored a masculine theme, they never lost their sophistication and never ceased to drape the female form in pure glamour. His menswear line was just that, a line that any man could feel comfortable wearing. I would not hesitate to purchase a St. Laurent suit for the important man in my life.

YSL Fall 2008 Collection-Photo courtesy of

There's no doubt the fashion industry has suffered a great loss. Designer, Artist, Genius. Yves Saint Laurent. You shall be missed.

1 comment:

Francis Girard said...

i was so sad i cried. i also believe it a great loss. super final sentence. xf