U Magazine - - UTRENDS - By Sabina Em­rit

We get up-close-and-per­sonal with the late de­signer’s part­ner to ex­plore his tal­ent from a new per­spec­tive.

Born in Al­ge­ria in 1936, Yves Saint Lau­rent was a sickly boy, bul­lied through­out his child­hood for be­ing dif­fer­ent. Shy and ner­vous, he turned to the art of fash­ion for his es­cape. As a teenager, he cre­ated his pa­per dolls by cut­ting out the women from his mother’s mag­a­zines and us­ing their sil­hou­ettes to cre­ate his own fash­ion house - "Yves Mathieu Saint Lau­rent Haute Cou­ture Place Vendôme". In­spired by the way his mother dressed, he de­signed his own dresses and ac­ces­sories for his ‘mod­els’. He named and pre­sented his col­lec­tions with his two lit­tle sis­ters en­rolled to play the buy­ers. Mod­els were named and cast, makeup was cred­ited as ‘El­iz­a­beth Ar­den’ along­side notes of real tex­tile man­u­fac­tur­ers, in­clud­ing Bian­chini-férier and Abra­ham Bu­col. His knowl­edge was ex­ten­sive, and at 17 (1953), he en­tered the Wool Sec­re­tar­iat's an­nual com­pe­ti­tion, submitting three sketches. The com­pe­ti­tion judges in­cluded cou­turi­ers Balmain and Dior and he was awarded third prize for his sketch of a dress. He was to claim his prize from Paris, and dur­ing his first trip to the city, he was in­tro­duced to the Editor of French Vogue, Michel de Brun­hoff. Michel praised his work and en­cour­aged him to be­come a de­signer. A year later (in 1954), Yves moved to Paris and at­tended the Cham­bre Syn­di­cale de la Haute Cou­ture. Upon pre­sent­ing Michel with 50 sketches, he was in­tro­duced to Chris­tian Dior, who im­me­di­ately took him on as his as­sis­tant. When Chris­tian Dior died of a heart at­tack in 1957, Yves made his­tory by be­com­ing the youngest courtier in the world - the Artis­tic Di­rec­tor of the House of Dior. His first col­lec­tion was ‘The Trapeze’ (1958) and was re­ceived with huge suc­cess. So much so that the fol­low­ing col­lec­tion was pre­sented in England’s Blen­heim Palace with guest of hon­our HRH Princess Mar­garet. Yves was be­com­ing un­doubt­edly one of the world’s most cov­eted de­sign­ers and at­tract­ing royal guests to his ‘front row’. Hav­ing shown six col­lec­tions for the House, and his sixth col­lec­tion not be­ing so well re­ceived, Yves was sud­denly drafted for mil­i­tary ser­vice in 1960. He suf­fered a ner­vous breakdown and was sent to hospi­tal. Dur­ing his hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion, he was fired from Dior, whom he later suc­cess­fully sued for breach of con­tract. Pierre Bergé, his ro­man­tic part­ner at the time, talked with Yves about launch­ing their own fash­ion house once he had re­cov­ered. In 1961, with Bergé as his busi­ness part­ner, the House of Yves Saint Lau­rent was born and its iconic logo cre­ated. The first col­lec­tion showed in 1961 and Yves changed the way fash­ion was per­ceived by chang­ing the way women were per­ceived. His ca­reer was not with­out its con­tro­ver­sies, but he cre­ated a world full of art - paint­ings re­told, sto­ries re­worked and brought to life for the body. A sto­ry­teller of the finest kind, he left a legacy that is now be­ing shared.

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