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Fashion Rebels: Yves Saint Laurent and the power woman

How Saint Laurent transformed men’s wear into women’s “power suits”

Yves Saint Laurent had worked for the Dior company since he was 18 years old. Christian Dior believed in his young assistant so strongly that just some years later, in 1957 when he went on vacation, he did so with a light heart, saying to his sales director that he was going away without any worries, because he was leaving the company with Saint Laurent.

The debut collection by Yves Saint Laurent, which included the renowned trapeze dress, was so well received that newspaper headlines heralded that Saint Laurent had saved France and the great Dior tradition would continue. It also drove Dior sales up by 35 percent.

Nevertheless, Her Royal Majesty Fashion had other plans for the gifted designer, much better than working for somebody, even if the „somebody” was legendary. In the 60s, Saint Laurent was befriending everyone, from Oscar winners to the Duchess of Windsor. The reason for that was because he was creating his own label, which he had decided to set up with his lover and business partner Pierre Bergé.

While Coco Chanel gave women the little black dress, Yves Saint Laurent gave them the option to leave it at home. He transformed men’s wear into women’s “power suits” in 1966. Due to his promotion of the beatnik look, we know safari jackets and thigh-high boots. His Mondrian print dress is the art in fashion and some weeks ago I saw it on offer in a trendy boutique. His trench coat is so classy that it’s difficult to replace it with something more elegant and assertive at the same time. He aimed at popularisation of fashion very much and was the first French designer to use ethnic models on the catwalks and to sell ready-to-wear collections. After his magnificent 40-year fashion career with thousands of amazing pieces, he said that what was important in a dress is the woman who was wearing it.

Unfortunately, the success and fame didn’t help him evolve, or maybe it was too much pressure upon the sensitive nature of the couturier. His survival owed much to Pierre’s support.

“When you have a relationship with an alcoholic, a drug user, you are forced to have very difficult relations,” Bergé told the New York Times in 2011. It marked his first interview after Yves Saint Laurent’s death from brain cancer in 2008.“What can we do? Nothing. Just accept the fact. To try t.o help, yes, which I did, with not much success, but I did it.”

Something from the modern history of Yves Saint Laurent YSL (2016)…