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The History of Yves Saint Laurent


Yves Saint Laurent will always be remembered as an amazing designer, who revolutionized the way women dressed. He gave women the chance to wear anything they liked, especially a tuxedo, which at the time was only seen as a menswear. But in Saint Laurent’s vision it was not all about men. He was so innovative and his creations are still remembered nowadays.

Yves Saint Laurent was born on August 1, 1936 in Oran, Algeria. He left his home at the age of 17 to pursue a career in Paris. Some of his early drawings were published by Vogue magazine and after that he started a fashion school. He met Christian Dior and they became really good friends and collaborated several times together.

21-year-old Yves St Laurent, at a press conference, shortly after the announcement of his new role as Chief Designer of the Dior fashion house, Paris, November 15, 1957


With his models on arrival at Victoria Station, London, bound for a show of his collection at Blenheim Palace, November 11, 1958


With the Iranian Empress Farah Dibah in Paris, November 1959


In 1962, Saint Laurent decided to open his own fashion label, which became very popular. In 1966, he launched the smoking suit, known as his legendary collection. The smoking suit became quite popular and it was seen as a sign of women empowerment by giving them courage and making them feel comfortable.

In his studio in Paris


In his Paris studio, April 7, 1965


Posing outdoors for the CBS special ‘The Paris Collections Fall Fashion Preview,’ June 26, 1968.


Besides the legendary smoking suit, Yves Saint Laurent’s most famous creations also include the sheer blouse and the jumpsuit. As soon as he started launching his own collections, women would do everything to obtain one of his creations. He gained so much popularity over the course of two decades.

Le Smoking


Evening gown worn by Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain. Autumn-winter 1968 haute couture collection. Photograph by Peter Caine (Sydney).


Jumpsuit from a formal ensemble, worn by Maria Lisa. Autumn-winter 1969 haute couture collection. Rue Spontini, Paris, July 1969.


The YSL Jumpsuit


He is known to be the first living designer to receive a solo exhibition in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1983.

Yves Saint Laurent outside the Metropolitan Museum of New York on the occasion of his first retrospective 25 Years of Design, New York, December 1983.


Yves Saint Laurent and Diana Vreeland walking through the couturier’s first retrospective, Metropolitan Museum, New York, December 1983.


But Yves Saint Laurent had many ups and downs, especially in the 80s. He became addicted to alcohol and cocaine and he also struggled with depression and illnesses to the end of his life.

In his Paris workshop, 1982


Leaving the premiere of the ‘Don Quixote’ ballet in Paris, November 03, 1981


In the 90s it looked like people were getting annoyed to the grunge style which was so popular at the time. Such thing made many people turn their eyes again to Yves Saint Laurent’s creations which were more stylish and chic. In 1998 the designer presented his last ready-to-wear collection, while in 2002 he presented his last haute couture collection and then retired for good in Marrakech.

With models Laetitia Casta, Mounia, and Katoucha after his last Haute Couture show in Paris, January 22, 2002


On June 1st 2008 the designer died from brain cancer in his house in Paris.

Yves Saint Laurent was made Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by François Mitterrand on March 12, 1985. He was later made Officier and then Commandeur before being named Grand Officier de la Légion d’Honneur by President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007.

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