Fashion is, in many ways, an indicator of history. The greatest fashion designers were influenced by the sociopolitical trends of the current day, and they impacted those trends themselves. One of the most influential designers was Yves Saint Laurent. Here are four facts you might not have known about Saint Laurent!
- Yves Saint Laurent was born in Oran, Algeria to French parents. His father, Charles Henri Saint Laurent, was a medical doctor who died when Yves was only seven years old. His mother, Louise Mathilde Saint Laurent (née Bettencourt), worked as a property developer and an interior designer. She remarried when Yves was eighteen years old, to Count Pierre Berge. Yves spent his childhood in Oran, Algeria, where his family had moved shortly after his birth. He developed a love of fashion at a young age and would often sketch designs for his mother and sisters to wear.
- He studied at Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. The École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) in Paris is one of the oldest and most prestigious art schools in the world. It was founded in 1648 by King Louis XIV, and its alumni include some of the greatest artists of all time such as Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dalí. The school’s teaching methods were based on those used at the Italian Academy of Painting and Sculpture in Rome (which had been founded by Pope Clement VII in 1563). Students began their studies with an apprenticeship under a master artist, followed by several years of study at the École. Yves Saint Laurent’s time at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris was a formative experience for the young designer. He arrived in the city in 1953, when he was just 18 years old, and enrolled in the prestigious art school. There he studied under some of the most respected artists of the time, including Fernand Léger and Ossip Zadkine. During his time at the Ecole, Saint Laurent developed a strong interest in fashion design. He began to sketch clothing designs and became fascinated with Alla Nazimova, a famous actress who was known for her style. In 1955, he left the Ecole to pursue a career in fashion design.
- In 1957, Yves Saint Laurent became the head designer at Christian Dior after the founder’s death. He was only 21 years old at the time. Under his leadership, the company flourished, and he is credited with helping to shape the look of modern fashion. His designs were often considered controversial, but they always managed to sell well. In 1960, he introduced the “le smoking” tuxedo for women, which caused quite a stir. But it was ultimately very successful and has become a staple in many women’s wardrobes. He also popularized ready-to-wear clothing, which was a new concept at the time.
- In 1960, he launched his own fashion label with partner Pierre Bergé. The pair met while working at the fashion house of Dior, where Saint Laurent served as head designer. After leaving Dior, the duo established their own couture house and quickly gained a reputation for their innovative and modern designs. Over the years, the label has expanded to include ready-to-wear, menswear, fragrances, cosmetics, and other accessories. Today, Yves Saint Laurent remains one of the most respected and well-known fashion brands in the world. His unique approach to design helped him stand out from other designers of his time and establish himself as a true visionary within the fashion industry. Saint Laurent’s designs often pushed boundaries and challenged traditional ideas about what women should wear. He popularized trends like tuxedo jackets for women and introduced new silhouettes that were both elegant and sexy. His use of bold colors and prints made him a favorite among fashionable women who wanted to make a statement with their clothing. In addition to pushing boundaries with his designs, Saint Laurent was also one of the first designers to embrace diversity within the fashion industry. He used models of all different ages, sizes, races, and backgrounds in his shows and advertisements. This helped break down barriers within the industry and paved the way for more inclusive standards today. Throughout his career, Yves Saint Laurent remained dedicated to creating beautiful clothes that made women feel confident and empowered. His legacy continues through the work of current creative director Anthony Vaccarello who carries on Saint Laurent’s tradition of fearlessly inventive design.”
All of these factors combined to make Yves Saint Laurent one of the most influential figures in fashion history. His broadening of boundaries, resilience to expectation, and challenging of norms all changed the dynamic of fashion and society.