Anyone who loves fashion, especially high fashion and luxury labels, has already come across the famous name Yves Saint Laurent. The revolutionary designer changed the fashion industry with new ideas and recognizable design. Born in 1936 in Oran, Algeria, the designer was already interested in fashion as a child. He began his career in Paris. In 1961 he founded his own label Yves Saint Laurent. Yves Saint Laurent changed the fashion industry by creating a trouser suit for women. Yves Saint Laurent has a wide range of products – from clothing to accessories to beauty products and fragrances. The luxury label stands for timeless elegance and high quality products. In this article you will find out everything about Yves Saint Laurent, whether perfumes, clothes and bags or the personal life of the French designer.
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Biography of the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent
Behind the world-famous brand Yves Saint Laurent, YSL for short, there is much more than just a company that launches beautiful bags, sunglasses, T-shirts, lipsticks, make-up and perfume. The Frenchman Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008) was already in the 50s as one of the most talented young designers. Initially known as the right hand of fashion designer Christian Dior, Yves succeeded in making his own name known as one of the most renowned fashion brands in the world after Dior’s death (1957).
Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent, son of an owner of a cinema chain and an insurance company and the big brother of his younger sisters, Michèle and Brigitte, grew up in Algeria, where he attended high school. He was the favourite child of his mother Lucienne-Andrée, who was passionate about fashion. Yves’ enthusiasm and passion for the fashion world, especially for expressive costumes, he discovered during the theatre performance “Critique de l’École des femmes” by Molières.
Evil mobbing actions shaped the designer
During his school years, Yves Saint Laurent was often subjected to bullying from his classmates. But his early passion for fashion led Yves to make his first sketches and costume designs at the age of eleven. In this way he created his own personal refuge from the malice of his classmates.
Fashion competitions as a career springboard
Every year a fashion competition of the International Wool Secretariat was held, which Yves Saint Laurent became aware of through an advertisement in the Paris Match. Without further ado, the then seventeen-year-old submitted three of his designs and took third place in the competition with an evening gown. As a result, Saint Laurent left Algeria for the award ceremony in Paris and, thanks to contacts made there, began training as a fashion and stage designer in 1954. This training took place at the Parisian fashion school Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
When friends become enemies: Enemy with Karl Lagerfeld
However, Yves did not finish his training and instead submitted three more designs to a fashion drawing competition organised by the International Wool Secretariat. This time he won first place with the design of a cocktail dress. At this point we have a fun fact for you: not only Yves won success and prestige at the competition, but also the designer Karl Lagerfeld, who won first place in the coat category. Over the years, the friendship between the two designers developed into a serious enmity.
Kate Moss shoots for YSL
In the following video you get a first glimpse of the new, glamorous Teddy Bag, which is presented by Kate Moss in a unique way.
Saint Laurent climbs the career ladder
The young designer’s renewed participation in the fashion competition of the International Wool Secretariat in New York proved that breaking off his training was not the worst idea. Because the successful participation opened further doors for Saint Laurent.
Thanks to Vogue: Yves’ career at Dior
Saint Laurent’s designs were published in the internationally distributed fashion magazine Vogue. The world-renowned magazine has a strong global influence on the fashion world and so the cocktail dress designed by Yves Saint Laurent attracted a lot of attention. The then French director of Vogue established a contact between Yves and the young designer Christian Dior, with whom Saint Laurent worked until Dior’s death in 1957 and became known as his right hand man. At the age of 21, Saint Laurent was promoted to art director by Marcel Boussac, the owner of Dior.
The designer meets his great love
At a dinner with the fashion journalist Marie-Louise Bousquet (Harper’s Bazaar) in March 1958, the young art director met Pierre Bergé. At first, the young entrepreneurs were just business partners. Over time, a firm friendship developed. It did not take long for the two of them to fall in love. Thus business partners became beloved life partners, who also supported each other in their daily business.
A nervous breakdown that changes everything
Yves was drafted to Algeria in 1960 for military service. The Algerian war had been raging there since 1955. Saint Laurent, however, suffered a nervous breakdown before he moved in and was transferred to a psychiatric institution. There he was treated with drugs and electric shocks, which led to a life-long drug addiction. As a result, he lost his job at the Dior fashion house. During this time Bergé did not abandon him and did everything necessary to get Saint Laurent out of the psychiatric hospital. The two of them consequently sued the Dior fashion house and received more than 100,000 US $ compensation for breach of contract.
1961: The foundation of the Parisian fashion company YSL
They used this money as start-up capital and founded the fashion company Yves Saint Laurent Couture with the help of the American financier J. Mack Robinson (1923-2014). The separation of Saint Laurent and Bergé followed, but they continued to enjoy each other as confidants and business partners and always stood by each other even in difficult times.
Get out of the public eye! After alcohol and drug abuse
Nevertheless, the health of the fashion designer deteriorated from the mid-1970s onwards. Depression, anxiety, nervous breakdowns and side effects of medication determined Yves’ life, which led him to take refuge in alcohol and drug abuse.
In 2002, the designer finally retired from the fashion world and lived in isolation as much as possible in his numerous estates. In 2007 he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour (glioblastoma). This was followed by the formal marriage of Saint Laurent and Bergé, who had been married for life, in order to confess their affinity. On 01 June 2008 the fashion designer died at the age of 72. A Catholic funeral service was held in the Parisian parish church of St-Roch. 800 invited mourners attended the ceremony, including the President of the Republic Nicolas Sarkozy, his wife and many renowned fashion designers who were friends of his, such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs and Valentino Garavani. The ashes of Yves Saint Laurent were scattered in the rose garden of his villa in Marrakech, which he bought together with Bergé in 1980.
BTW 15 Facts about Saint Laurent
Within 12 minutes, you will find out 15 things worth knowing about the fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.
YSL collections write history
“Zhivago look”: a scandalous appearance of the designer
However, the termination was no reason for him to refrain from designing collections. Thus, the young fashion designer made use of transparent fabrics, the nude look, for the first time. In addition, the designer used permanently black fabrics and often the fabric jersey. This was initially considered scandalous, but then it became a trend. From 1965, geometric, colourful and patterned costumes followed, to the delight of international fashion magazines. One year later, the designer made another scandalous appearance, as the “Zhivago look” was born. This was made of transparent tops; black chiffon blouses with bow collars, without wearing underwear. But Saint Laurent remained true to his style and once again succeeded in setting a trend. Because the zhivago look successfully established itself in the western world.
Birth of the tuxedo for ladies
In the years that followed, the designer created other daring looks such as women’s pantsuits, thigh-high boots, tight trousers, the beatnik look and tweed suits. In 1965, Saint Laurent created a glamorous prêt-à-porter collection, Rive Gauche, for the following year. This was the official hour of birth of the Haute Couture Tuxedos for women (Le Smoking), which were immediately available in a wide variety of variations. This was not so much merely modern clothing, but rather served as a symbol for the emancipation of women in the 1960s.
Haute Couture with ready-made sizes, thanks to Saint Laurent
In 1966, Saint Laurent opened his first store for the cheaper prêt-à-porter fashion line Rive Gauche to attract new groups of buyers. This was the first time that ready-made sizes were introduced. Rive Gauche fashion for men followed for the 1970 season.
YSL fragrances go down in history
Saint Laurent’s business partner and life partner Bergé concluded his first contracts for a YSL perfume as early as 1963. This was followed a year later by the opening of the YSL Beauté cosmetics collection and the women’s fragrance Y was available immediately. In 1971, both the women’s fragrance Rive Gauche and a perfume for the gentlemen of creation, YSL pour Homme, were released. Saint Laurent personally promoted this product, naked in an artistic pose. This was followed by an expansion of the products available in the YSL range, so from the mid-1970s sunglasses, writing instruments, home articles, women’s stockings and cigarettes were also available.
Black Opium: The official promotional video of the Trend Parfum
In this video you can see how high fashion companies, in this case YSL, market their products. An authentic everyday situation is magically transformed into an appealing advertising video.
Fragrances – Ladies fragrances from floral to oriental
Yves Saint Laurent has many different fragrances on the market, and there is something for every woman – whether floral sweet or sexy and oriental. Different women will find their favourite fragrance from the wide selection, and be enchanted by it.
Scents: Libre – the fragrance for women
With the successful singer Dua Lipa as brand ambassador, Yves Saint Laurent celebrates the freedom and strength of women. The classic men’s fragrance was transformed into a feminine women’s fragrance by perfumer Anne Flipos. Which is typical of Yves Saint Laurent, as he brought the tuxedo into the women’s wardrobe. In the Yves Saint Laurent Libre fragrance, a hint of bourbon vanilla meets lavender, and together with warm orange blossom forms a perfume that is both femininely warm and masculine cold. With its slanted Yves Saint Laurent logo and the slanted black cap, the otherwise minimalist perfume has a sophisticated look and embodies freedom and strong power women, because Libre stands for “being free”.
- feminine and masculine at the same time
- For strong power women
Black Opium – The best-selling Yves Saint Laurent fragrance
The fresh and intense black opium is one of the best-selling Yves Saint Laurent fragrances, and convinces many women. It is available almost everywhere, because everyone wants it. The successful fragrance is provocative, rebellious and loud. On the other hand, it is also elegant and sexy. The perfume Black Opium was created for women who are not afraid to stand out and look confident.
The Black Opium is available in many variations, for example the Intense version, the Floral Shock version and the Exotic Illusion version. But the most popular is the classic Black Opium. The fragrance is oriental. It convinces with a strong note of coffee beans, and the feminine scent of jasmine and orange blossom. These are combined with vanilla and woody notes. The design of the bottle speaks for itself: chic dark design, combined with glitter and the Yves Saint Laurent logo on the bottle neck. Because with the fragrance Black Opium one thing is clear: more is more!
- Conspicuously rebellious
Here again a list of some YSL fragrances
- Opium (Ladies, 1977)
- Kouros (Herren, 1981)
- Paris (Ladies, 1983)
- Jazz (Gentlemen, 1988)
- Champagne (Ladies, 1993, renamed Yvresse)
- Opium pour Homme (Men, 1995)
- Baby Doll (Women, 1999)
- M7 (Herren, 2002)
- Rive Gauche pour Homme (Men, 2002)
- L’Homme (Men, numerous variations, from 2006)
- Elle (Ladies, 2007)
- Parisienne (ladies, 2009)
- Manifesto (Ladies, 2012)
- Le Vestiaire des Parfums (series of particularly high-priced fragrances, from 2015)
- Black Opium (Women, 2015)
- Y (Men, 2017)
- Mon Paris Couture (Ladies, 2017)
Fashion for the emancipation of women
Saint Laurent created further looks in the course of his career, which were especially intended to fulfil the purpose of the emancipation of women. For example, he created the safari look (1968), a modern “nostalgia look” (late 1960) and the unusual “noble peasant woman look” (mid-1970). At the end of the 1970s, Saint Laurent left the Rive Gauche fashion line to other designers and his muse Loulou de la Falaise so that he could focus on haute couture. This was followed in the 80s by the first designs of bolero and liftboy jackets.
Announced Fashion Must Haves from YSL
The high fashion fashion company represents the market with a wide variety of products. bags, T-shirts, shoes, sunglasses and co. Everything that the heart of a fashion crazy can long for is represented by Yves Saint Laurent. You even have the possibility to get the expensive designer pieces in the sale. Like every fashion label Yves Saint Laurent has beside attractive and unusual products some pieces in the assortment which are known as absolute permanent trends.
Youtuberin Maria Draganova takes you on a little shopping tour and gives you first insights into what it is like to shop in luxurious boutiques.
5 facts about Yves Saint Laurent
First bookings of dark-skinned models
Yves Saint Laurent was one of the first couturiers to book dark-skinned models. When the international fashion magazine Vogue refused to print British model Naomi Campbell on the magazine cover, Saint Laurent threatened to cancel advertisements in 1988.
Designs at the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art
Yves Saint Laurent was the first designer whose work was exhibited at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (1983).
A pharmaceutical company makes fashion?
Yves Saint Laurent and Bergé sold their company YSL in 1993 for US $ 600 million to the pharmaceutical group Sanofi because their sales figures had fallen sharply. Nevertheless, the two entrepreneurs retained control of the fashion industry.
YSL Fashion in the private museum in Paris
Yves Saint Laurent’s self-designed clothes and accessories are still kept in a private museum in Paris. There are about 15,000 accessories, 5,000 dresses and a lot of drawings of the fashion designer. In order to prevent these valuables from being damaged in the long term, the museum has a permanent humidity of 50% and a room temperature of 18°C.
Sold out shoe trend for 8.000 Euro
Yves Saint Laurent’s company YSL caused a big hype last year: overknee boots with conical heel and glittering rhinestone trimming. Celebrities like top model Kendall Jenner or superstar Rihanna didn’t hesitate to buy you the boots without thinking about it. Although the eyecatcher had a proud price of about 8.000 €, there was quickly a waiting list.
YSL Beauty – Brand ambassadors: Zoë Kravitz and Emi Suzuki
The Yves Saint Laurent Beauty range, which was founded in 2000 and since then has won over many women and men, has a wide range of products – from make-up to care products. The Yves Saint Laurent Beauty range can be purchased in any beauty store or perfumery. The products are of high quality and have a noble design.
Make-up: eye shadow, lipsticks, eye-shadow
At Yves Saint Laurent there are different make-up products, from foundation to coloured eye shadow to gaudy seductive lipsticks, like the lipsticks in the collection that the successful actress Zoe Kravitz has brought out with Yves Saint Laurent. The colours as well as the noble design of the lipsticks is convincing and sexy.
Luxury face care for pure & fresh skin
The Yves Saint Laurent Beauty Collection also has a stunning range of facial care products. FIV has selected the 3 best products for you:
- YSL Forever Youth Liberator
- YSL Top Secrets Instant Moisture Glow Face Cream
- YSL Beauty Pure Shots Night Reboot Serum
Everybody wants to look fresh despite a lot of stress: The successful model Emi Suzuki from Shanghai has been modelling since she was 13, is constantly on the road, and works as a media content creator on the side. FIV Magazine has a video for you, showing Emi Suzuki looking fresh with the YSL Beauty Pure Shots Night Reboot Serum, which she has integrated into her night routine, despite her busy schedule and stress. The Pure Shots Night Serum gently exfoliates, refines and moisturizes for fresh looking skin after a long day. You don’t need to look at your skin on a busy schedule. The serum is massaged into the skin with tapping movements after facial cleansing and works overnight.
YSL: The bags trends
Everyone wants them, everyone knows them, famous bloggers or supermodels love them: Saint Laurent luxury bags. Famous names like Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid or the Kardashians are constantly being spotted with them. The classic and timeless bags can be integrated into any outfit, whether chic or casual.
Lou Lou Bag: Luxurious & stylish
The prestigious Lou Lou Bag, which had completely disappeared from the scene for a while, is now constantly popping up everywhere. This classic bag is made in Italy from high quality calfskin. The Yves Saint Laurent logo is in the foreground of the stylish envelope bag. You can wear the Lou Lou Bag over your shoulder, or double as a short strap, and the Lou Lou Bag is available in many different sizes and variations, so it really goes with everything.
- different sizes
- good leather processing
Another trendy bag is the Niki Bag. In the foreground of the Niki Bag is also the Yves Saint Laurent logo, and this one also convinces with high-quality material. The fabulous bag convinces with a simple but chic design.
- high quality
- YSL Logo in the foreground
Yves Saint Laurent: Men’s collection
The style of Yves Saint Laurent is classic and modern at the same time. This is also noticeable in the men’s collection. It plays with classic elements such as hats and jackets and modern looking elements such as glitter, making it look trendy. In addition, there are many loose shirts in the men’s collection, which look stylish with different designs like flowery elements or even straight stripes. The clothes of Yves Saint Laurent are in line with the spirit of the times and convince both women and men.
Women & Men’s fashion combined
Yves Saint Laurent completely turned the women’s wardrobe upside down, and is therefore considered a revolutionary in the fashion world. He did what few would have dared to do in the 1950s: Yves Saint Laurent put suits that were previously only worn by men into women’s closets. The image of women in the 1950s was very different from the image of women in the 21st century. A woman should look as feminine and feminine as possible, which is why dresses and skirts were so popular. For Yves Saint Laurent, it was true that despite wearing a suit, one did not have to look masculine.
Yves Saint Laurent – Life & Label
With the abbreviation YSL not everyone knows directly who is behind the high fashion brand. Many ask themselves the question who is behind YSL, namely it is the revolutionary designer Yves Saint Laurent who was born in Oran, Algeria. The designer aroused an interest in fashion and design in his childhood. After his unfinished training as a fashion and stage designer in Paris, he started working for Dior. Some time later he founded his own label which developed into a successful luxury label. Yves Saint Laurent died in Paris in 2008. The luxury label was owned by the Gucci Group, and was subsequently bought by the Kering S.A. Group.
- 1985 – Oscar de la mode, the highest award in the fashion world
- Yves Saint Laurent was admitted to the Legion of Honour in 1985 by Francois Mitterrand
- In 1995, he was named an officer of the Legion of Honor
- 2001 by President Jacques Chirac as Commander of the Legion of Honour
- 2007 by President Nicolas Sarkozy to Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour
Film tip from the editorial staff
You want to watch the story of this unique designer again in feature length? Then I recommend the film for the following trailer.
Q&A facts about Yves Saint Laurent
Who owns Yves Saint Laurent?
The label is owned by the Kering S.A. group, which was previously part of the Gucci group.
When did Yves Saint Laurent die?
In 2008, Yves Saint Laurent died of cancer in the fashion metropolis of Paris.
When & where was Yves Saint Laurent born?
Yves Saint Laurent was born in 1936 in Oran, a city in Algeria.
When did Yves Saint Laurent start his label?
In July 1961 in Paris. Before that he was creative director at Dior.