Fashion History–Designer Yves Saint Laurent

This blog post is the beginning of a series on influential fashion designers.  

Yves Saint Laurent (August 1, 1936–June 1, 2008) was a French fashion designer born in French Algeria.  In 1953 he moved to Paris after winning a competition for young fashion designers and quickly found work with Christian Dior. After Dior's death in 1957, Saint Laurent was chosen as head designer of the haute couture fashion house at age 21. In 1960 Saint Laurent was drafted into the French army and fired from the House of Dior. Soon after, Saint Laurent established his own fashion house with the assistance of his partner, Pierre Berge. The house was successful, and some of Saint Laurent's most memorable styles include a refashioned tuxedo for women and his Mondrian collection of dresses based on artwork. In 1966 he was one of the first major designers to embrace ready-to-wear clothes with his Rive Gauche stores. Women flocked to purchase Saint Laurent designs at a lower price point. In 1983, Saint Laurent became the first living designer to be honored with an exhibition of his work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Saint Laurent died of brain cancer in 2008, shortly after a civil union with his longtime partner Pierre Berge. In addition to his fashion design, Saint Laurent embraced interior design and was an art collector during his lifetime. After his death, Berge auctioned some of their collection to raise over $300 million dollars for AIDS research.  

Some of the materials available on Saint Laurent at the Boston Public Library include: 

Yves Saint Laurent: A Biography - A well regarded general biography of the designer.

Debut: Yves Saint Laurent - This book focuses on Saint Laurent's first year establishing his own fashion house.

The Private World of Yves Saint Laurent & Pierre Bergé - A book about Saint Laurent's homes, with views of some of the items later sold at the auction held after his death.

The Beautiful Fall - An examination of the rivalry between Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld, as well as Paris in the 1970s.

L'amour fou (DVD French Widescreen) - A view of Saint Laurent's life through the eyes of his partner, Pierre Berge.

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