YVES SAINT-LAURENT, Algerian-born, French designer was born on this date (d: 2008) In the bad old days, before journalists simply said what was on their minds, Time magazine was the master of innuendo, taking particular delight in announcing to the world that someone was a fag without ever saying so directly.
About thirty years ago, for example, when a flamboyant New York conductor reported that his car was stolen, Time maliciously reported the AWOL marine caught driving it was suddenly identified by the conductor as…er, um…his secretary, who had merely borrowed the auto.
The haute couturier Yves St. Laurent’s turn came when Time remarked that “his life with Pierre Berge, his…intimate of fifteen years, has probably been as harmonious as most marriages.” Well, it might have been harmonious. Right after the article appeared, the two split. Nevertheless, Berge stayed on to run the business and the two remained close.
One of the most successful and influential designers of the 20th century, Saint-Laurent was one of the first designers to market his brand across the board. He was the first French couturier to come out with a full prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) line, although some credit this move with Saint Laurent’s wish to democratize fashion; others point out that other couture houses were preparing prêt-à-porter lines at the same time – the House of Yves Saint Laurent merely announced its line first.
The first of the company’s Rive Gauche stores, which sold the prêt-à-porter line, opened on the rue de Tournon in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, on 26 September 1966. The first customer was Catherine Deneuve.
1983, Saint Laurent became the first living fashion designer to be honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a solo exhibition. It remains one of the most successful shows the Met has ever mounted to this time. In 2001, he was awarded the rank of Commander of the Legion of Honor by French president Jacques Chirac. Saint Laurent retired in 2002 and became increasingly reclusive, living at his homes in Normandy and Morocco with his pet French bulldog.
Saint Laurent died on June 1, 2008, of brain cancer at his Paris residence. According to The New York Times, a few days prior, he and Bergé had wed in a same-sex union known as a “Pacte civil de solidarite (PACS) in France. When Saint Laurent was diagnosed as terminal, with only one or two weeks left to live, Bergé and the doctor mutually decided that it would be better for him not to know of his impending death. Bergé said, “I have the belief that Yves would not have been strong enough to accept that.
Forbes magazine rated Saint-Laurent the top earning dead celebrity in 2009. Oh Ozymandius…!