Saint Laurent's mother, Lucienne Saint Laurent,
was a beauty and socialite. His father, Charles
Saint Laurent, owned a chain of cinemas. His great-great
grandfather was the lawyer who drew up the wedding
contract between Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine.
Saint Laurent was bullied at school, and he has
blamed this on his homosexuality.
Saint Laurent had wanted to become a theatre set
designer, but in 1953 at the age of 17 he won
third prize in a prestigious fashion competition
for the Wool Secretariat for a little black cocktail
dress. He showed talent and was hired by the great
Christian Dior. In October 1957 Saint Laurent
was left in charge while Dior went holiday but
Dior died of a heart attack. On 15th. November
Yves Saint Laurent was named as his successor
and became the youngest ever couturier.
Saint Laurent's first collection was the Trapeze
line which was very successful and pushed up sales
by 35 per cent. It was at this time that he met
Pierre Bergé who was then the manager and
lover of the dreadful Parisian painter Bernard
Buffet. However Bernard Buffet met his future
wife and Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé
got together and soon began to live together.
In 1960 Yves Saint Laurent began his national
service but after 20 days he suffered a nervous
breakdown and spent some time in hospital. In
1961 Saint Laurent set up his own couture house
with Pierre Bergé who supplied financial
backing. There followed several ground-breaking
fashion moments -in 1965 hecreated the first female
tuxedo, in 1966 he was the first couturier to
open a ready-to-wear boutique and in 1968 he was
the first couturier to use transparent material.
He also invented the trouser suit for women.
In 1976 Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé
split up, although Pierre Bergé did not
moved out of their joint home until 1986. Pierre
Bergé continued to be his business manager
but Saint Laurent, never in the best of health
and of a rather delicate disposition, appeared
in public much less frequently. Saint Laurent
came out publicly as gay in an interview for the
French daily newspaper Le Figaro in 1991.
The fashion house was sold to the pharmaceuticals
company Sanofi for £409 million and in 1997
the a donation of £1 million from Saint
Laurent and Pierre Bergé allowed the Yves
Saint Laurent room to be opened in the French-painting
wing of the National Gallery in London. In January
2000 the modern art museum was opened in the Pompidou
Centre in Paris after the two had partly sponsored
Gucci acquired YSL's ready-to-wear and perfume
businesses and Francois Pinault took over Saint
Laurent's haute couture house in 1999.
On St Valentine's Day in 2000 mail was stamped
in France with designs based on his Pop Art heart
images from the 1970s and Saint Laurent's portrait
appears on the last-ever 5, 10, and 50 franc pieces
to be minted before the introduction of the euro.
The Yves Saint Laurent Museum in the Paris suburbs
contains 5,000 outfits, 2,000 pairs of shoes,
and over 10,000 pieces of jewellery.
In January 2002 Yves Saint Laurent announced his
retirement. His final fashion show was held at
the Centre Pompidou in Paris on 22nd January.
& Relationships: Saint Laurent
lived for many years with Pierre Bergé.
The revolutionary introduction of men's
clothes for women - trouser suits, safari suits
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