(Yves Mathieu Saint-Laurent;) Oran, Algeria, 1936 - Paris, 2008) French Couturier, one of the legendary names of Haute Couture. Son of Charles Mathieu and Lucienne Andrée Saint-Laurent, grew up with her two sisters with all the amenities expected from a good family in French Algeria. His father, lawyer of some success, always wanted to Yves to study law and this attended a school of Oran where he received an education based on an iron discipline that affected him and influenced his later life.
He was always very attached to his mother, Lucienne, a beautiful and elegant woman who was fascinated by Yves with his constant costume changes. She immediately understood the sensitive child and when he saw that classmates laughed at his son because he wore his sisters dolls and puppets of the school theatre, decided to find a center of learning dressmaking and pattern design in Paris where he could develop his talent.
This was a period of training and also doubt between deciding on theatre or fashion, in which the adolescent Saint-Laurent devoured Vogue and other magazines at the time who read Marcel Proust, his favorite author. Finally, spurred on by her mother, she decided to make the leap, and the provincial Yves was only moved to Paris with seventeen years, willing to learn all about the Haute Couture.
And soon showed that his commitment was serious. He showed his designs to Michel de Brunhoff, editor of Vogue, who was pleased and decided to publish them in its journal. He followed the advice of De Brunhoff and enrolled in a school of Haute Couture, but found it boring and shortly thereafter ceased to attend classes. Impatient apprentice presented an outline for a cocktail dress in a competition and won first prize, made that it served to be known among the Parisian society.
Natural heir of Christian Dior
The young man Saint-Laurent was introduced to Christian Dior by De Brunhoff and he immediately surrendered to his talent. In 1954 he began working under the orders of the great creator, who would become in hand right up to his death, in 1957. For three years he collaborated in a narrow way with Dior, who often criticized his extravagant proposals but at the same time admired the creative talent of his young disciple, which used to be called "my Prince".
The death of the teacher affected the young disciple, who happened to be his natural heir. Once he was appointed art director of the firm, he launched his first collection, presented under the name of Trapeze and with which was a resounding success. Among the public who attended that parade was Pierre Bergé, a friend of Dior and usual circle of Parisian fashion, which over time became partner, friend and lover of Yves.
In 1960 he could not help any longer the obligations of military service and left his post at the head of Dior because he was called up by the French army. A few months could not tolerate the harshness of the military lifestyle and suffered its first great depression, it had to be admitted to a military psychiatric hospital. His friend Berge used his influences and soon after got to leave it out of there.
The creation of his own firm
Meanwhile, the House of Dior named director Yves Assistant, Marc Bohan, which greatly displeased the Couturier, who decided to sue the company. Aided by his inseparable friend Berge, Saint Laurent filed a lawsuit and fought until they receive compensation from the company for moral damages and, with that money and Mack Robinson, an American business man interested in fashion, he created his own Couture House.
In 1962, he presented a first collection under his name and four years later launched the tuxedo, which, with the passage of time, became a classic. With this pledge and the rest of his creations was erected in the pioneer of a more democratic, fast and affordable fashion for generations.
In the mid-1960s was to work in collections designed for mature and sophisticated women. The actress Elizabeth Taylor wore at her wedding with Richard Burton a model of Saint-Laurent, and other celebrities, such as Marlene Dietrich, Farah Diba, the Duchess of Windsor, Sofia Loren and Catherine Deneuve, also took his clothes on occasion. With the complicity of her best friend, Betty Catroux, Saint-Laurent created an androgynous style that sought to find the equivalent of the male costume for women.
Revolutionary creator and occasional model
In 1970 its parades highlighted by the presentation of the female American and dresses and blouses that left the back bare. But the fact that his 'Style' collection 1940s got very bad reviews was reason enough for Yves decided to abandon fashion during the following two years. At the beginning of the 1970s he made model for its Rive Gauche male ready-to-wear collection, and came to pose naked for the camera of Jean-Loup Sieff for her perfume, rather unusual in those days.
With the help of their two best designers and Anne-Marie Munoz, Loulou de La Falaise, in 1974 the Couturier reappeared with a collection dedicated to the second empire and again heard applause. That year, Time magazine called him "King of fashion" and devoted a cover. Also entered several times in hospitals, who came to fall, and even the support of his friend Pierre managed to avoid that you end each time only in his Paris flat, or refugee in the mansion that had been built in Marrakech. Fed up with this situation, Berge left him in 1976.
Fears of a winner
In 1983, at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, opened an exhibition dedicated to his creations. Two years later was the Museum of fine arts in Beijing which did the same, and in 1986 the Museum of fashion in Paris presented a retrospective of the designer since 1958. The success of Saint-Laurent was such that, at the end of the eighties, the company created more than twenty years ago already had more than 10,000 people who worked in 200 countries and some 360 million euro invoiced.
Despite the fact that it had already been distinguished with the award Oscar Neiman Marcus fashion (Dallas, 1958), or the Oscar Harper's Bazaar (1966), mid-1980s became public recognition to his work and received the Legion of Honor from the French President François Mitterrand. However, Yves Saint-Laurent continued to suffer episodes of insecurity and the fear of failure took him to consume tranquilizers and sleeping pills.
In the 1990s he spent long periods in his palace in Marrakech, where he is locked up for weeks to create their collections. In Paris, on July 12, 1998, on the occasion of the end of the World Cup, 300 models paraded in the Saint Denis Stadium in a retrospective of forty years of creation of the designer. And that same year created what would become his last ready-to-wear line.
The American designer, Albert Elbaz was chosen by the teacher so that it happens, but purchase the following year of most of his company by the Pinault Group changed their plans. Tom Ford took charge of everything except of Haute Couture, which continued a few more years in charge of the French Couturier. After his retirement in 2002, Yves Saint-Laurent remained an enigma, a millionaire anarchist able to declare: "the only thing I regret is not having invented the jeans".
If something stands out at Yves Saint-Laurent, in addition to his creative genius, it is transgressive and contradictory character, a true Legend of fashion by its own right, author of the pantsuit the Saharan, shorts... The first transparencies to the scandal of the black, the route of this designer, who was the first to break the rules of Couture, did not represent a hymn to women and fashion, always looking for a balance between comfort and fantasy. Sick and tired, withdrew aware of having made progress Haute Couture and have created the clothing of the contemporary woman.