Yves Saint Laurent‘s legacy as a king of fashion designers, who created a masterpiece of a brand, keeps growing. Yves Saint Laurent was born in 1936 and grew up in Oran, Algeria. At 17, he left for Paris where he showed his drawings to Michel de Brunhoff – director of French Vogue – who published several of them immediately. Following a stint at fashion school, Yves Saint Laurent was introduced to Christian Dior where he worked until Dior’s death in 1957. After taking over as art director for Dior, Yves Saint Laurent launched his first collection for the company, the Ligne Trapéze, that year.
It was a resounding success and won him a Neiman Marcus Oscar. In 1962, after completing National Service, Yves Saint Laurent set up his own fashion house with Pierre Bergé. In 1966, he introduced le smoking – his legendary smoking suit. His other inventions include the reefer jacket (1962), the sheer blouse (1966), and the jumpsuit (1968). In October 1998 Yves Saint Laurent showed his last ready-to-wear collection for the Rive Gauche label he had founded more than 30 years before. He carried on his haute couture until 2002.
After a brief stint with Alber Elbaz as designer, in 1999 Tom Ford arrived to take control at the house. The brand entered the stratosphere where it remains today, covering perfume and menswear as well as womenswear. At his last show, in 2002, a tearful Yves Saint Laurent took his final bow as his long-time muse, Catherine Deneuve, sang Ma Plus Belle Histoire d’Amour. Stefano Pilati, who replaced Tom Ford in 2005, continues Yves Saint Laurent’s message that “dressing is a way of life“. Yves Saint Laurent died after a long period of ill health at his home in Paris on June 1, 2008. He was 71.