The Style King
Easily one of the most recognizable figures in fashion history, by the end of his life, Algerian born Yves Saint Laurent had managed to make his name synonymous with elegant style.
A precocious adolescent, Laurent began designing clothes professionally at 17, while working as a couturier to an assistant of fashion great Christian Dior. Over a career that spanned over fifty years, before his death in 2008, he revolutionized several aspects of the high fashion industry and influenced a host of designers who came after him.
A kind of flared circus tent-like design, the dress was unlike anything before, yet the revolutionary style worked - not only were Trapeze dresses worn throughout the sixties but as the saying goes 'anything good comes around again', they also seen a return to popularity in recent times.
Among his many achievements Saint Laurent made ready to wear clothes a chic and acceptable option. Prior to that breakthrough off the rack clothes were considered well below par by the moneyed, fashionable elite.
Another breakthrough came with his 1966 collection, which introduced the androgynous look and notably, the tuxedo for women - a concept that was so successful it continued to be worn for several decades.
After a brief stint in the army in 1960, due to conscription and which ended in illness, Dior extricated himself from Dior and with his partner, Pierre Berge, started up his own fashion house-House of YSL. Along with his high couture collections, Saint Laurent 's ready to wear line, which included a wide range of accessories, perfumes and cosmetics, was hugely successful and overall netted him far more money that his high fashion, couture ventures.
Although not all his collections were met with the same universal acclaim, Saint Laurent had so many successes his name acquired an elevated stautus in the fashion world and among the public any product with the YSL signature logo denoted quality and style.
Not only was he the first fashion designer to be honoured with an exhibition by the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art under the auspices ofdformer british Vogue editor, Diana Vreeland, but in 2001 he was given France's highest accolade - the Legion of Honour.
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"The most beautiful clothes that can dress a woman are the arms of the man she loves. But for those who haven't had the fortune of finding this happiness, I am there."~YSL
One of Saint Laurent's greatest strengths was his eye for social change, possessing the imagination to create styles that reflected the shifting sands for women, as well as men.
YSL was an innovator all the way along - from his early trapeze dress and other revolutionary styes, to his use of ethnic models, and his vast ready-to-wear line, the man who once remarked "fashions fade but style is eternal" lay a bold trail for others to follow.
Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008 as the result of a brain tumour but not before being joined in a civil union with his long-term partner, Pierre Berge. Romantically, his ashes were scattered amid a beautiful garden in Marrachech, Morocco, which seemed a fitting conclusion for a man of style.