Yves Saint Laurent

Casey Mackenzie Johnson

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA264

Yves Saint Laurent was born into a wealthy and prominent family in French Oran, Algeria, in 1936. At the age of eighteen he moved to Paris, where he found a job assisting Christian Dior; just three years later, Laurent was appointed creative director of Dior after Dior’s death. Within a few seasons, though, the business heads of the House of Dior had him conscripted into the armed forces after outrage over his looser shapes and Left Bank designs.

In 1962 Yves started his own label with the help of his loyal companion Pierre Bergé. In the years following, Laurent created fresh, ingenious couture designs season after season. In 1966, sensing that ready-to-wear clothing was the future, he opened his Rive Gauche boutique and a fashion line of the same name. The first collections were not met with critical success, but he was tapping into the Zeitgeist—the democratization of culture.

While it was not until 2002 that Yves showed his final couture collection, in 1998 Alber Elbaz took over responsibility for the Rive Gauche collections. Elbaz was succeeded by Tom Ford in 2000. In 2002 Ford took full creative control and was followed by Stefano Pilati in 2004 and then Hedi Slimane in 2012.

Saint Laurent died of brain cancer in 2008. Over his illustrious 45-year career, he changed the way women dress and he will forever be remembered as one of the greatest fashion designers of all time.

A classic Yves Saint Laurent design. Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Jones T. , and S. Rushton , eds. Fashion Now 2 . Cologne : Taschen, 2005.

Find in Library Meek J. , ed. Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective . Sydney : Beaver Press, 1987.

Yves Saint Laurent.” Voguepedia, n.d. http://www.vogue.com/voguepedia/Yves_Saint_Laurent (accessed 27 February 2014).