Anyone who knows me knows I value simplicity of good design and detest the majority of mass production “frill” in the fashion industry today. For this reason and in celebration of the film just released in theaters this summer, I’d like to discuss one of my favorite designers, Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent.
I don’t think I have to tell you this French couturier helped change the face of fashion by being one of the first designers to embark on the ready to wear fashions. He is famous for effortlessly mixing the classic style of the male suit and the elegance of women’s clothing, and successfully bringing to the mainstream true staples such as the dropped-waste silhouette, the hobble skirt, and the androgynous beatnik look. However, not many people know of the battles the designer faced both internally and externally; Or of his involvement in one of the most inspiring and spirited love stories in fashion history.
The film’s depiction of Yves journey was a tumultuous one. From becoming Christian Dior’s protege and then as his successor, to his time in a psychiatric hospital after a horrible hazing incident after being conscripted to serve in the French Army; from the creation of the first tuxedo jacket for women Le Smoking and the start-up of his own company with Pierre Berge at his side, to the struggle with drug addiction and the strain of the “jet set” mode de vie.
Pierre Berge seemed to be not only the driving force behind the brand at times but also the glue that kept the business (and Yves) together through some pretty trying times. His unconditional love for Yves throughout his life and beyond is just as inspiring as the clothes seen in the film.
While the film does leave a little sadness in my heart for the designer, being able to watch the history and his process in creating such beautiful works of art is poignant and stimulating.
You might ask why one of my favorite designers is one that would bankrupt me if ever my husband weren’t paying attention. Well there are always ways to gain inspiration from a certain designer or look, even when our pocket books aren’t quite deep enough. Think black and white; think casual fit but luxurious fabrics; think Audrey Hepburn; think French chic.
I am actually lucky enough to have just one YSL piece in my wardrobe. I found the trousers buried in a rack at Buffalo Exchange and could hardly contain my excitement when they fit perfectly. To this day I give credit to these trousers for many successful job interviews and for saving me from several major closet meltdowns. Any piece that can last spring cleaning seven years in a row, hasn’t faded from accidental washes, and still looks good is a keeper, and these pieces are few and far between. I officially dedicate this post to my vintage 90’s YSL black high-wasted skinny leg little piece of fashion history.