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The French Designer Yves Saint Laurent

Updated on August 25, 2014

YSL (1936-2008)

One of Fashion's Greatest Names

Popularly known as Yves Saint Laurent, Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint Laurent was a fashion designer from France and one of fashion history's greatest names. In the year nineteen eighty-five, it was reported that Yves Saint Laurent was the celebrated most consistently and in the past 25 years has been the designer most influential.

With both spurring the rise of couture from the 60's and finally causing RTW to have a good reputation, Saint Laurent is also credited with introducing a women's tuxedo suit. He also became the first fashion creator to use models that are ethnic in the shows on the runway and in his work referenced cultures that were non-European.

YSL is Born

Born on the first of August in '36 in the Algeria town of Oran, Saint Laurent's parents are Lucienne and Charles Mathieu-Saint-Laurent. He was brought up in a Mediterranean villa with 2 sisters Brigitte and Michelle. As a child he love creating paper dolls that were intricate and by the time he was a teenager, he was creating dresses for his sisters and mother. By the age of eighteen, he had moved to Paris after enrolling at the ChambreSyndicale dela Couture where there was quick note of his designs.

He was introduced by the French Vogue editor Michel De Brunhoff to Christian Dior, who was at a fashion world giant at the time. Under the tutelage of Dior, the style of Saint Laurent continuously matured and gained even more notability.

In the year nineteen eighty-three, Saint Laurent was the first fashion designer honored with a solo exhibit by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Legion d'Honneur Award

French president Jacques Chirac had also awarded him Legion d'Honneur's rank commander and he retired in the year '02 when he became reclusive, increasingly, living in Morocco and Normandy homes with Moujik, his French Bulldog pet. In Paris, he had also created a foundation with Berge, tracing the history of the Yves Saint Laurent house, complete with five thousand pieces of clothing and fifteen thousand objects.

Always a favorite among female clients, he had made many muses as inspiration for his work. He once described Iman, the supermodel from Somali as his "dream woman."

Saint Laurent Muses

Other muses include Laetitia Casta, supermodel and always the bride for his shows between '97-02, Rebecca Ayoko, Togolese supermodel, Senegalese supermodel Katoucha Niane, top YSL model from 78-83 Nicole Dorier, French actress Catherine Deneuve, French decorator's wife Betty Catroux and Loulou de la Falaise, a fashion model.

If February of '09, seven hundred thirty-three items were put up for auction at the Grand Palais at Christie's. These ranged from ancient Egyptian sculptures to Picasso paintings. Berge and Saint Laurent started art collections in the nineteen fifties.

On day one of the sale the Les Couscous painting of Henry Matisse broke a world record previously set in the year '07 for a work by the artist and sold for thirty-two million euros. Later, the auction included items from the villa in Normandy featuring his Hermes luggage and his last automobile by Mercedes Benz.

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    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      5 years ago from San Francisco

      Aah... memories... during the disco days my credit card's favorite designer. thank you

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 

      6 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Yves Saint Laurant has always been one of my faves-- thanks for a delightful trip down memory lane

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