Yves Saint Lauren
Yves Saint Laurent was founded by designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, his Pierre Bergé, in 1962.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the firm popularized fashion trends such as the beatnik look, safari jackets for men and women, tight pants and tall, thigh-high boots, including the creation of arguably the most famous classic tuxedo suit for women in 1966, Le Smoking suit. He also started mainstreaming the idea of wearing silhouettes from the 1920s, '30s and '40s.
Yves Saint Laurent was the first Couture house to launch, in 1966, the modern concept of luxury women’s prêt-à-porter, in a collection called ‘Rive Gauche’. It was followed in 1969 by a ‘Rive Gauche men’s ready-to-wear line. The Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche boutiques were soon opened throughout the world, allowing fashion-conscious working individuals to wear the Yves Saint Laurent designs.
He was also the first designer to use black models in his runway shows. Among St. Laurent's muses were Loulou de La Falaise, the daughter of a French marquis and an Anglo-Irish fashion model, Betty Catroux, the half-Brazilian daughter of an American diplomat and wife of a French decorator, Talitha Pol-Getty, who died of drug overdose in 1971, and Catherine Deneuve, the iconic French actress. Ambassador to the couturier during the late 1970s and early 80s was London socialite millionairess Diane Boulting-Casserley Vandelli, making the brand ever more popular amongst the European jet-set and upper classes.
In 1993, the Saint-Laurent fashion house was sold to the pharmaceuticals company Sanofi for approximately $600,000,000.
In 1999, the Gucci Group (the luxury division of the PPR Group) bought the YSL brand and Tom Ford designed the ready-to-wear collection while Saint-Laurent designed the haute couture collection.
The following year, dogged by years of poor health, drug abuse, depression, alcoholism, criticisms of YSL designs, Saint-Laurent closed the illustrious couture house of YSL. While the house no longer exists, the brand still survives through its parent company Gucci.
The prêt-à-porter line is still being produced under the management of Valérie Hermann, appointed CEO in 2005, and Stefano Pilati as Creative Director after Tom Ford retired in 2004.
Since 2004, the brand has renewed the exceptional legacy of its founder while bringing a contemporary approach to its collections, which combine elegance, top-quality fabrics, refined and discreet but
Today Yves Saint Laurent’s collections include women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, shoes, handbags,
small leather goods, jewellery, scarves, ties and eyewear. They are designed for both modern women
who have a keen sense of freedom and follow their instincts with assurance, captivating others with their elegance, as well as men who prefer a nonconformist look and assert the different facets of their personality in a modern and sensitive way.
The Yves Saint Laurent network currently has 63 directly-operated stores, including flagship stores in Paris, New York, London, Milan, Hong Kong and Tokyo. The brand is also present in the most prestigious multi-brand boutiques and department stores in the world.
It was followed in 1969 by a ‘Rive Gauche men’s ready-to-wear line. The Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche boutiques were soon opened throughout the world, allowing fashion-conscious working individuals to wear the Yves Saint Laurent designs.
One of Yves St. Laurent's greatest talents is colour - from his Mondrian-inspired dresses to his Ballet Russes collections in the 70's. Some say he is the supreme fashion colourist of this century, unrivalled by any other designer. His colour schemes even clash elegantly. He repeats what Chanel said, "Fashions change, Style remains." His dream is to give women the foundation of a classic wardrobe, which, by escaping trends, gives them more confidence in themselves. His Smoking (tuxedo) jacket was a shock when it was introduced in 1966. A woman was banned in the 60's from dining at the Plaza hotel in New York, because she was wearing a YSL pantsuit. His pants and jackets became a statement for a new generation of women, and he said "I want to shock people, force them to think." The secret to his style (or styles because there are many) is that he creates clothes that make a woman look great and feel the height of elegance.
Everyone from long-standing fans like YSL muse Betty Catroux and Catherine Deneuve, to actresses like Renee Zellweger, Julianne Moore and Chloe Sevigny.