Published on February 25, 2014 | by Dorothy Spencer


Preview: Yves Saint Laurent

Poster of the upcoming movie about Yves Saint Laurent.

The film follows Saint Laurent through the key developments in his life and illustrious fashion career. [Flickr: Justina Elumese]

Simply titled Yves Saint Laurent, the soon to be released biopic looks at the tumultuous life of the legendary Algerian born fashion designer, who became creative director at the House of Dior, aged 21, following the sudden death of Christian Dior.

Played by Pierre Niney, who wore Saint Laurent’s own glasses and a nose implant throughout filming with an uncanny resemblance, the film follows Saint Laurent through the key developments in his life and illustrious fashion career. The narrative centres on his relationship with both business and love partner, Pierre Berge.

Saint Laurent will perhaps always be better remembered for the ‘le smoking’ tuxedo, his pioneering take on a previously exclusive male sense of dress. It is hard to capture just how radical his designs were at the time – despite being created in 1966, this one just doesn’t get old. There is still little more appealing than a woman in a full tuxedo, especially a YSL tuxedo, a potent shot of sexuality in a sea of dresses.


Representing a sharp, androgynous, and darkly sexual ascetic, the reefer jacket, thigh high boots and jumpsuit are just a few of the other garments that can be attributed to the sublime talent of this man who drew inspiration from history, art and literature, referencing such wide themes as the Ballet Russes to the writings of Proust and Shakespeare in his designs.

As well as being undeniably blessed creatively, Saint Laurent suffered from the afflictions that scar the minds of many creative geniuses. Well known for his heavy use of cocaine and alcoholism, he and Berge were part of the ’70s jet set, described by biographer Laurence Benaim as “the most celebrated homosexual couple in the history of couture”. Rumours of drug addiction and Aids blighted Saint Laurent’s personality throughout his career, as speculation danced around his fluctuating weight, incoherent statements and stumbles.

In the wake of a nervous breakdown following his conscription to the French army in 1962 – having already deferred three times – Saint Laurent was discharged from the Val de Grace mental institution and the army. In his absence Marc Bohan replaced him at Dior. After receiving a legal payout from the fashion house, Yves and Berge launched YSL and premiered their first collection to critical acclaim.

Directed by Jalil Lespert, who was given permission to use and consult the archives of the Pierre-Berge Yves Saint Laurent Foundation – which holds a bounty of 5,000 dresses, 15,000 accessories and original sketches by the creative genius – expect a visually sophisticated film to match the personality who famously said, “fashion fades, style is eternal”.

For further information and tickets click here.

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