A King of Fashion: The Departure of Yves Saint Laurent

“I would not be able to live if I did not make dresses.” - Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent needs no introduction. A French designer whose fame has spread throughout the globe, he is one of the most celebrated and influential fashion designers of the modern era. His fame is such that he is not just known in the rarefied circles of fashion, but in a wider social context. The fact that he has become a household name is a testament to his powerful influence on popular culture.

Yves Saint Laurent’s influence on the course of fashion history cannot be overstated, as he almost single-handedly brought influences of vintage menswear and street style into the world of fashion, shaking up the somewhat atrophied and staid world of 1960s haute couture. In 1966, the first of the company’s Rive Gauche stores opened in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. He was the first French couturier to come out with a full prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) line, and also the first fashion designer to use non-white models on the catwalk. Individual collections are still justly famed. For example, the Fall 1965 collection is credited with introducing the world to the woman’s tailored tuxedo suit.

At the end of his career, a retrospective show was curated at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The sprawling exhibition provided a detailed and dynamic overview of his work as a designer and highlighted the singular fashion “firsts” that he contributed to the fashion design universe. In The Departure of Yves Saint Laurent, he discusses the genesis of his work in fashion and the process by which he created beautiful and refined garments.
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