Les modes passent, le modèle est éternel.
Fashions fade, but style is forever.
-Yves Saint-Laurent
French actress Catherine Deneuve, one of the muses of Monsieur Saint-Laurent, shown in 1966.
Remembering and Honoring Yves Saint-Laurent
~ The designer who did more than any other to make Fashion a true Art form ~
As President Sarkozy of France said, Monsieur Saint-Laurent was
"the first to raise Haute Couture to the rank of an Art form by providing a global reach."
«le premier à élever la Haute Couture au rang d'un art en lui assurant un rayonnement planétaire.»
- And here is just one example of that:
~ Here is one artist who inspired him, and then at least one designer whom he inspires today! ~
This is one of the signature-style paintings by early-20th C Dutch modern painter Piet Mondrian, who began producing such grid-based compositions in 1919; the ones shown here are the more definitive works, from the 1930's-'40s.
One of the Mondrian-inspired dresses from Yves Saint Laurent's Fall 1965 collection, featured on the September 1965 issue of French Vogue, and then--WHOA! SERIOUSLY?!--Latvian model Inguna Butane, backstage at Roberto Cavalli, Spring 2006. HHHOT!!! Nice reinterpretation! Think it was a coincidence...? :-s
BE a work of art... WEAR a work of art... How...about... BOTH.
Looks great on canvas hung up on a wall, or on jersey hung upon a model! :-D






Above: German model Diana Gartner model wears the dress at the Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective, Spring 2002. Below: We see an early self-portait of Mondrian, then a somewhat suggestive picture of that '60s model from French Vogue, and...hey--am I insinuating something here?? Nahhh. I ain't that clev-eau-oua...
Gridlocked! Oh no!!! SO...What makes a dress work? Well, a person wearing it. I would think. Y'know? :-/




In the words of his long-time friend and business partner Pierre Bergé:
"Yves Saint Laurent knew perfectly well that he had transformed the world and fashion, that all women everywhere owe him something in a certain way. … If Chanel gave women freedom during the first half of the twentieth century, Saint Laurent gave them power."
En Français: «Yves Saint Laurent savait parfaitement qu'il avait transformé le monde et la mode, que toutes les femmes du monde entier lui doivent quelque chose d'une certaine manière. … Si Chanel a donné la liberté aux femmes pendant la première moitié du XXe siècle, Saint Laurent
leur a donné le pouvoir.»
Working on a design in Harper's Bazaar, February 1958.
@---->--->--- Les roses de la vie ---<---<----@
"The Roses of Life" - Enjoy...
First up: four pictures of YSL and his greatest muse, Catherine Deneuve, through the years:
Above: Both pictures are from the 1960s. Below: the left one is from 1981 and right one is from the late-1980s.
Note the lovely pale rose-colored jacket...
He once said of the great actress: “She has always been special to me. I dressed her from the film Belle de Jour by Luis Buñuel. She is a woman who has a charm and a wonderful heart. For me, she is the biggest global star. We write often. I call her "Catherine, my sweetness," and she sends me pale roses.”
En Français: «Elle a toujours été extraordinaire pour moi. Je l'habille depuis le film Belle de Jour de Luis Buñuel. C'est une femme qui a un charme et un cœur merveilleux. Pour moi, elle est la plus grande star mondiale. Nous nous écrivons souvent. Je l'appelle «Catherine, ma douceur», elle m'envoie des roses pâles.»
At the close of his Fall-Winter 1993 runway show:
How romantic!
French model Julie de Gouy in an ad for the Yves Saint-Laurent perfume, Paris, and
then an illustration by the French Art Deco illustrator Georges Lepape, for the June 1, 1923 issue of US Vogue.
AS noted in the essay above, Saint-Laurent's long-time friend and business partner Pierre Bergé saluted the grand couturier as definitively representing the nation where he made a name for himself:
“French because you could have been nothing else,”
he said.
“French like a verse of Ronsard, a parterre of Le Nôtre, a page of Ravel, a painting of Matisse.”
Dior by John Galliano, Fall-Winter 2007
(as worn by Belarussian model Olga Sherer)
Yves Saint-Laurent, Fall-Winter 1962
(black wool dress with rose detail and a string of pearls)
And as for "a verse of Ronsard," let consider what is the most famous one of all--
that is, if quotation compendiums are any indication--and here it is:

Vivez, si m'en croyez, n'attendez à demain:
Cueillez dès aujourd'hui les roses de la vie.

- «Sonnets pour Hélène», dans Les Œuvres de Pierre de Ronsard, 1578)

Live, if you believe me, do not wait until tomorrow:
Pick today the roses of life.
- "Sonnets for Helena," from The Works of Pierre de Ronsard, 1578

And a real-life illustration, if you please?
Et une réelle illustration, s’il vous plaît??
Yves Saint-Laurent, Spring-Summer 1968
(Described on the official site as a "wedding garment")
Yves Saint-Laurent, Spring-Summer 1999
(And this? a "bouquet" of roses... That is some bouquet!)
So it's like, the woman who caught the bouquet at a previous wedding ceremony now wears the bouquet at her own!
A brilliantly simply idea and simply brilliant one as well...
(That is the French model and actress Laetitia Casta, who was also a close friend of the couturier.)
And here we have yet another instance of his influence today:
This kind of gives a whole new meaning to “taking a walk in a garden,” don't you think?
Alexander McQueen, Spring-Summer 2007
(as worn by Belarussian model Tanya Dziahileva)
The roses are just one of the influences here; another is the translucent upper part of the dress. The perennially provocative "see-through" blouse (or dress) was first introduced to the world in YSL's Fall-Winter 1968 collection.
And now a note about the more substantial connection that exists here: When the Gucci Group which had bought the YSL brand in 1999, they had appointed American designer Tom Ford create the new ready-to-wear line, but in 2004, when Ford was to be replaced, the first choice was Alexander McQueen, a British designer known for his modern reinterpretations of traditional tailoring, and a designer who was himself inspired very much by the work of Saint-Laurent. However, McQueen turned down the job, choosing instead to concentrate on his own signature line. (Women's Wear Daily, 3/11/2004)
~ 7 YSL Style-Alikes ~
(Note: I have many more in the works!)
Yves Saint-Laurent, Fall-Winter 1968
(black jersey dress)
DSquared2, Spring-Summer 2006
(as worn by Dutch model Doutzen Kroes)
Burberry Prorsum, Spring-Summer 2008
(as worn by Slovak model Kinga Rajzak)
Yves Saint-Laurent, Fall-Winter 1972
(heavy knitted cap, belted waist, flannel pants)
Yves Saint-Laurent, Spring-Summer 1977
(* I reversed it. Chantilly lace and guipure dress w/ribbon)
Dolce & Gabbana, Spring-Summer 2006
(as worn by Russian model Valentina Zelyaeva)
Yves Saint-Laurent, Fall-Winter 1972
(knitted coat with silver fox collar, sleeves, and trimming)
J.-P. Gaultier Couture, Fall-Winter 2006
(as worn by Belgian model Elise Crombez)
Viktor & Rolf, Spring-Summer 2008
(as worn by Russian model Natasha Poly)
Yves Saint-Laurent, Fall-Winter 1979
(from the renowned wardrobe of socialite Nan Kempner)
And above this row of black & white pictures is an ad for the YSL cologne, Jazz, from 1989.
Dior Couture by Galliano, Spring-Summer 2005
(as worn by Dutch model Rianne Ten Haken - the boot is Dior S'05 Ready-to-Wear)
Yves Saint-Laurent, Fall-Winter 1963
(oilskin raincoat and cap, black crocodile boots)
make avatar
Nice >>>
~ Some Quotes and a Song ~
Woman’s chief asset is a man’s imagination. –English proverb
Were it not for imagination a man would be as happy in the arms of a chambermaid as of a duchess.
–Samuel Johnson
Now let us consider the perspective of the opposite side:
Where's the man could ease a heart
Like a satin gown?

–Dorothy Parker
I have heard with admiring submission the experience of the lady who declared that the sense of being perfectly well-dressed gives a feeling of inward tranquility which religion is powerless to bestow. 
–Ralph Waldo Emerson
And now let's hear from one designer of that experience, shall we? He said (ahem)
“Nothing is more beautiful that a naked body. 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.”

-Yves Saint Laurent (1983)
En Français: «Rien n'est plus beau qu'un corps nu. Le plus beau vêtement qui puisse habiller une femme ce sont les bras de l'homme qu'elle aime. Mais, pour celles qui n'ont pas eu la chance de trouver ce bonheur,
je suis là.»
Eurythmics - "Right By Your Side" (1983)
Now, check out this outfit worn by stylish Scottish songstress Annie Lennox. This song was released in October of 1983, but her African-inspired outfit--the hat, the fur, and the cut of the suit--all definitely resemble the Fall-Winter YSL collection of the following year. Quite the mystery indeed.
Is the year--the same as that YSL quotation above--a clue, perhaps...?
Oh, and as for the above quotation about the arms of a man? Listen to the first line ;^D
- Quotations -
I don't call myself The Fashioniste just because I love fashion, but also because I'm seeking to fashion a bridge from Fashion to Art and to Literature. And here is where the literature comes into play -- First enjoy the quotes I have arranged, and then a short essay I have
put together as the latest part to this ongoing homage to one of the best! ~Merci...~

~ A Prelude ~

Personality, indomitable, inimitable, irrepressible, irreplaceable
in art, in fashion, and in great writing.

-my own paraphrase of Goethe (pr. “gurtah”)

And as one brilliant fashion designer said:
Les modes passent, le modèle est éternel.
Fashions fade, but style is forever.

-Yves Saint Laurent (pr. “Eev San Lo-ron”)

~ A Brief Arrangment of Quotes ~
by ~The Fashioniste!~

The originality of a subject is in its treatment.

-Benjamin Disraeli, mid-19th C British writer
After all, it is style alone by which posterity will judge of a great work, for an author can have nothing truly his own but his style.
-Isaac Disraeli, early 19th C British writer
Only well-written works will descend to posterity. Fullness of knowledge, interesting facts, even useful inventions, are no pledge of immortality, for they may be employed by more skillful hands; they are outside the man; the style is the man himself. [Le style c'est l'homme.]
-George-Louis Leclerc de Buffon, 18th C French naturalist
And we may also say: The style is the woman herself! [Le style c'est la femme!]
-The Fashioniste
Individuality of expression is the beginning and end of all art.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 18th C German writer
Personality is everything in art and poetry.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
~ * ~ * ~ * ~
It is with books as with men: a very small number play a great part;
the rest are confounded with the multitude.

-Voltaire, 18th C French writer
History is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies.
-Alexis de Tocqueville, 19th C French writer
I’m happy to be copied, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing my job well.
-Yves Saint-Laurent, 1998 (as quoted in WWD, June 3, 2008, p. 9)

A Short Essay on
~ The Influence of YSL on Modern Fashion ~

Pierre Bergé, the long-time companion and business partner of Yves Saint-Laurent, saluted the grand couturier as definitively representing the spirit of France, describing him as “French because you could have been nothing else. French like a verse of Ronsard...” Now, let us pause right there and consider the place of that 16th-century French poet, Pierre de Ronsard, in French literary history, and how it is analogous to the place of this French designer in not just French fashion history, but in worldwide contemporary fashion as we know it. . . .

The French-born British writer Hilaire Belloc said of Ronsard: “If it be true that words create for themselves a special atmosphere, and that their mere sound calls up vague outer things beyond their strict meaning, so it is true that the names of the great poets by their mere sound, by something more than the recollection of their work, produce an atmosphere corresponding to the quality of each; and the name of Ronsard throws about itself like an aureole the characters of fecundity, of leadership, and of fame.”
(Essays on the French Renaissance, 1904)

Can the same not be said of Yves Saint-Laurent? Pierre de Ronsard was known as “Le Prince des poètes et poète des princes,” that is, “The Prince of Poets and Poet of Princes,” just as Saint-Laurent was known as “Le Prince de Mode” or “The Prince of Fashion.” And it is true that Saint-Laurent was not only a Prince of Fashion, but a Poet of Fashion. But we may extend that title yet further: the great Italian poet Dante is known as the “Poet of Poets” just as the great English poet Shakespeare was known as the “Poet of the People,” and, indeed, Saint-Laurent may be known from here on forward as “The Designer of Designers” and as “The Designer of the People” as well....

In considering the work of Shakespeare, 19th-century American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote of Shakespeare something that maybe also be said of Saint-Laurent in the world of fashion—that his work “possesses the power of subordinating nature for the purposes of expression, beyond all poets. His imperial muse tosses the creation like a bauble from hand to hand, and uses it to embody any caprice of thought that is upper-most in his mind. The remotest spaces of nature are visited, and the farthest sundered things are brought together, by a subtle spiritual connection.” (Nature, 1836)

The German writer Georg Christoph Lichtenberg wrote that: “No work, and especially no work of literature, should display the effort it has cost. A writer who wants to be read by posterity must not neglect to drop into odd corners of his chapters such hints at whole books, ideas for disputations, that his readers will believe he has thousands of them to throw away.” (The Waste Books, Notebook D, Aphorism 53, 1773-1775)

Likewise, we may also say that no work, and especially no work of fashion, should display the effort it has cost. A designer who wants to be admired by posterity must not neglect to drop into odd corners of his collections such hints at whole clothing lines (as shown in the countless variations on YSL concepts every season, some being shown in the lookalikes gallery below), and ideas for disputations (tuxedos for women, see-through blouses, and costumes from Africa and Asia for Western women), leading both designers and fashion-lovers–as well as any perceptive onlooker–to not only believe, but to actually see that he has thousands of such ideas to throw away, and, as Emerson said of Shakespeare's inventiveness with human nature, it was female beauty that Saint-Laurent tossed like mere bauble from hand to hand with every new collection....

Emerson also said of Shakespeare that, “It was not until the nineteenth century, whose speculative genius is a sort of living Hamlet, that the tragedy of Hamlet could find such wondering readers. Now, literature, philosophy and thought are Shakespearized. His mind is the horizon beyond which, at present, we do not see. Our ears are educated to music by his rhythm.” (Essays and Letters, p. 718)

And in yet another essay, he remarked that “On the other part, instead of being its own seer, let us receive from another mind its truth, though it were in torrents of light, without periods of solitude, inquest, and self-recovery, and a fatal disservice is done. Genius is always sufficiently the enemy of genius by over-influence. The literature of every nation bears me witness. The English dramatic poets have Shakespearized now for two hundred years.” (The American Scholar, 1837)

So, it may thus be said that just as English writers have Shakespearized for the past four centuries, it is fashion designers that have Saint-Laurentified (pr. san-lo-rontified) for the past four decades. Prêt-a-porter, Haute Couture, the looks and styles of Paris, Milan, New York, London and all the other big cities, are quite Saint-Laurentified. His mind is the horizon beyond which, at present, we cannot see. Our aesthetic sense has been educated by the music of his designs, and his work forms the vocabulary and even the very alphabet of modern fashion design.

So let us receive from this other mind its truth, though it were in torrents of light from one season to the next, but if we do this without periods of solitude, inquest, and self-recovery, then a fatal disservice is done. As in all the arts, genius is always sufficiently the enemy of genius by over-influence. The fashion collections of every major city and wardrobes of innumerable women bear witness to this fact, and, once again, just as writers have Shakespearized for the past four hundred years now, so designers have Saint-Laurentified for the past four decades, and will continue doing so, well into the future....

And so it may be said that Yves Saint-Laurent is the Shakespeare of modern fashion, along with being Le Ronsard de la Haute Couture.

For fellow-designer Christian Lacroix, the reason for Saint-Laurent's success was his astonishing versatility. There had, Lacroix said, been other great designers but none with the same range. “Chanel, Schiaparelli, Balenciaga, and Dior all did extraordinary things. But they worked within a particular style,” he explained. “Yves Saint Laurent is much more versatile, like a combination of all of them. I sometimes think he's got the form of Chanel with the opulence of Dior and the wit of Schiaparelli.” (as quoted by Agence France-Presse news, June 2, 2008)

In his retirement speech, given on January 7, 2002, Saint-Laurent acknowledged the various preceding couturiers who made him the relentlessly creative genius that he was. “First and foremost,” he said, “I would like to pay tribute to Christian Dior, my master, who was instrumental in revealing to me the secrets and mysteries of haute couture. I do not forget Balenciaga, Schiaparelli, and, of course, Chanel, who taught me so much and who, as we all know, liberated women. It was this that enabled me, years later, to give women supremacy and, in a way, to liberate fashion.”

~ * ~
The Mondrian dress collage at the beginning is something I also featured at my “Style-Alikes - Part 3” gallery, and the other picture following that was used in another gallery. In some 18 different galleries I have posted, I have either quoted Monsieur Saint-Laurent, or featured images of his work or of himself, or of those who have since designed for the house of his namesake. His influence and impact on fashion today cannot be overestimated, and the beauty and the diversity of his work is truly timeless... From the 1960s, through the 1970s, to
the 1980s, he was known as "The King of Fashion," as shown on this Time magazine
cover, from December 12, 1983:
He is truly one of the greats, and anyone who aspires to be a fashion designer today is influenced, whether knowingly or not, by the work that he did--but as long as you're learning, it's always wise to study the best! The following site has a slideshow for every runway collection he did--bookmark and check it out, it is so awesome!! (Just give it a second to load, and then click a span of years, then COUTURE, and all the seasons are listed under the picture that appears. There is also a tab on the lower right to translate it into ENGLISH so you can know all the names of the styles and fabrics!)
Here is a translation of just some of amazingly beautiful things that have been said about him by the current President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the First Lady of France, former model Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, along with others:
"Saint Laurent, a visionary of Haute Couture" (translated)
This article lists many of the groundbreaking creations--and controversises--of his career:
"Yves Saint Laurent reinvented the clothing we live in"
And yes, a visual overview of his work-- Behold, the entire
YSL Retrospective Collection, Spring 2002
And lastly, a video from one of his early fashion shows, in 1962 (w/subtitles) -
~ * ~ * ~
~ Merci . . . ~
~ * ~ * ~