Almond, Kevin (2012) Yves Saint Laurent – Dazzling Colourist. Journal of the International Colour Association, 9. pp. 1-4. ISSN 2227-1309

Much has been written and speculated about the life and career of the French fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent. To many he is the archetypical tortured genius of fashion, fulfilling the romantic ideal of the sensitive artist suffering for his craft. He is also recognised as one of the defining architects of fashionable clothing in the twentieth century, a designer with a clear vision of how the modern women should be dressed. A shy teenager employed as assistant to Christian Dior, he was catapulted into a global spotlight when appointed chief designer on Dior’s death in 1957. He was fired by Dior for designing an all black, beat-nick styled collection, considered too avant-garde for an established label. The defining outfit from this collection is displayed in the exhibition. In shiny black patent crocodile, edged in black mink it retains a look of lavish modernity. Saint Laurent founded his own couture house with partner Pierre Berge in 1961. Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s he was a unique creative force within the industry, beginning with the championing of ready to wear: with his boutiques ‘Rive Gauche’, to his hugely influential fashion innovations such as ‘Le Smoking’ in 1966, the Safari Collection’ of 1969, the ‘Forties’ collection of 1971 and the ‘Ballet Russes’ collection of 1976. These collections are purported by chroniclers of fashion to have had a profound impact on the sartorial lives of everyday women and on the work of other fashion designers. As his biographer Alice Rawthorne said:
‘In terms of stylistic innovations he unleashed a storm. His influence was so strong that the innovations of thirty years ago now look like everyday designs.’ (Kelso, (2002), p-3)
By the 1980’s Saint Laurent’s fashion influence had begun to wane. The name remained synominous as a brand associated with Parisian luxury however the collections became a series of sumptuous refinements that were no longer considered cutting edge. Reports also began to circulate about Saint Laurent’s emotional and physical well being; he was portrayed in press reports as a man burnt out through ceaseless creation, tortured by the continuous wheel of fashion and the demands of producing four collections a year. Saint Laurent eventually retired in 2002 and died in 2008.

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