I know what you’re thinking. ‘Guest Post‘? That’s new. It IS new.
The first of this kind details the life of one of my favourite designers, and in particular the relationship with his partner.
I couldn’t be more thrilled to host Lisa Reynold’s musings on Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé. She’s rather brilliant!
Take it away, Lisa!
Forget the celebrity romances of today. They don’t have a patch on the love story of French designer Yves Saint Laurent and French industrialist and patron Pierre Bergé. I love reading about both their successful enterprise as the two co-founders of the brand Yves Saint Laurent and their loving romantic relationship.
Saint Laurent and Bergé met while both were at the funeral of designer Christian Dior, who had passed away suddenly in 1957. Saint Laurent had been Dior’s protégé, with Christian saying to Yves’ mother, not long before he died, that he wished for Saint Laurent to take the helm at Dior, if he died. Bergé was present at the funeral due to him being well-known in the Parisian fashion and art spheres.
As Christian Dior had hoped, Saint Laurent tightly grasped the reigns at Dior. His first collection for the house was a huge success with the press intrigued by his shy and mysteriously fabulous aura. Yves’ debut collection for the brand was a softer interpretation, particularly in comparison to Christian’s ‘New Look’. The ‘trapeze dress’ was the highlight of this collection and became a prominent silhouette for women of that era.
However, after a less-than-popular Dior collection in 1960, Marcel Boussac (owner of Christian Dior) put great amounts of pressure on Yves to conscript. Yves’ refusal resulted in Boussac firing him. At this difficult time, Bergé remained by his side and put together funding for them to start-up the Yves Saint Laurent brand. Together, they worked tirelessly on the new company.
Saint Laurent was the mastermind behind some of fashion’s most innovative creations; my favourite YSL outfit, ‘Le Smoking’, the safari style modeled by Veruschka and the Mondrian dress based on the almost infamous painting.
His Rive Gauche collection first brought about prêt-à-porter, which made expensive-style clothing affordable for a much wider audience.
In 1976, Yves and Pierre sadly split but they remained friends and continued to do business together.
For most of his life, Saint Laurent suffered with depression and in the late seventies, his reliance on drugs and alcohol had a hugely negative impact on their relationship. Thus, Bergé felt he had to end it. Interestingly, despite leaving Yves, he moved only one block away from the apartment they shared.
The following year, brought great professional success with the launch of YSL’s fragrance ‘Opium’. However, 1988 was also the year in which Saint Laurent became more and more down in himself, despising his fame. Finally, he got help for his addictions and stayed sober for the rest of his life.
Not long before he died (from brain cancer) in 2008, Saint Laurent was joined with Bergé in a civil union ceremony.
Saint Laurent’s funeral took place in Paris’ St Roch Catholic Church. He was cremated and following this, his ashes were scattered in the Majorelle Garden in Marrakesh, which he and Bergé had owned since 1980.
Bergé was incredibly moving at the funeral as he spoke of the love of his life saying:
“But I also know that I will never forget what I owe you and that one day I will join you under the Moroccan palms”.