Celebrating the life and work of the high priest of fashion

YSLFrom Lily Allen to Kate Beckinsale, from Lady GaGa to Salma Hayek, Victoria Beckham, our favourite girl Kristen Stewart and any other fashionista worth her salt, they all have one thing in common – their love for this particular brand. Be it bags, clothes, shoes, perfumes or even jewellery, there are very few other brands that claim their own piece of fashion heaven as commandingly as does Yves Saint Laurent. Like someone once said, YSL is to fashion what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris – you will be a little lost without it.

Celebs and other fashion forward people love the man behind the brand and swear by his designs. The late fashion mogul and one of the most iconic men in fashion would have celebrated his 76th birthday yesterday. On this occasion, here are a few little known facts about him:

  1. Born in French occupied Algeria as Yves Henri-Donat Matthieu-Saint Laurent, YSL moved to Paris as a teenager. He won a fashion design contest in 1953 organized by the International Wool Secretariat. So impressed was Christian Dior by his winning designs that he hired the young Saint Laurent on the spot. At the time of Dior’s sudden death, Saint Laurent was appointed Head Designer of the House of Dior at the young age of 21.
  2. He was the first designer to use ethnic models in his runway shows. He is also credited as the first French designer to create prêt-à-porter line, Rive Gauche, to make it easily available to more people.
  3. The greatest contributions that YSL made to women’s wear are the ‘Trapeze dress’ and ‘Le smoking.’ The trapeze dress was a part of Saint Laurent’s first collection as head designer of Dior in the 1958 Dior Spring Collection. With fitted shoulders and a flare outwards from below the shoulders, the dress has a very soft look. ‘Le Smoking’ was the first classic tuxedo for women, introduced in 1966 that championed the androgynous look and empowered women by giving them sartorial options that were earlier exclusive to men.
  4. Saint Laurent featured in a shockingly bold advertisement for a men’s cologne from his line in 1971 where he posed naked with his legs modestly crossed in the front.
  5. In 1983, Saint Laurent became the first living fashion designer to be honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a solo exhibition. After his death on June 1, 2008, his partner, Pierre Bergé, in collaboration with Christie’s, organised a grand auction. It included 733 items that Saint Laurent and Bergé had collected since the 1950s. The proceeds went for the creation of a new AIDS research foundation.

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