Because Yves Saint Laurent was such a true fashion guru and because he had such an extraordinary influence on the entire fashion world, I believe that every true fashionista must know at least a few facts about Yves Saint Laurent. He is well known for saying "Fashions fade, style is eternal" and that "We must never confuse elegance with snobbery" but I love him for believing that "The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy" and that "Over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it." He used to say that, because Chanel freed women, he was the one who empowered them. I’ll hope you’ll enjoy these few amazing facts about Yves Saint Laurent I will tell you about in the next lines, and that it will make you love him and his creations even more.
1. He First Designed Dresses for His Sisters
Among the interesting facts about Yves Saint Laurent you might not know is the fact the he stepped into the fashion world at a very young age, in his early teens, by designing dresses for his mother and for his two sisters Michelle and Brigitte. Before that, he used to create intricate paper dolls and that’s how he discovered his amazing taste for fashion. At the age of 17, a whole new world opened up for him when his mother took him to Paris to meet Michael de Brunhoff, the editor of French Vogue.
2. He Was Bullied in School
I’m not sure if you already knew this, but for me, this was totally kind of a sad surprise. From what I’ve read, I realized that this great man (although he came from a pretty wealthy family) had still a pretty rough childhood because apparently, he was not that popular in school and he was often bullied by his schoolmates for appearing to be homosexual. As a consequence of that, he was known to be a nervous child and he was sick nearly every day. I believe that all these events affected him throughout his entire life and later he even had to fight against addictions to alcohol and cocaine.
3. He Worked for Christian Dior
At the early age of 18 (wow!) he started working for the very famous Christian Dior after winning first prize in the International Wool Secretariat contest for his cocktail dress design in 1954. I was really impressed by the way in which Yves Saint Laurent admired Dior by saying that "Dior fascinated me" and "I couldn't speak in front of him. He taught me the basis of my art. Whatever was to happen next, I never forgot the years I spent at his side." At the age of 21, he became the creative director at Dior and remained there until 1960 when he was called back to his home country of Algeria to join the army.
4. Sadly the Army Got to Him
Even though he was called back to join the army in his native country Algeria, he only served in the military for 20 days because unfortunately, he suffered a nervous breakdown. He was transferred then into a French mental hospital because he suffered from stress and he even underwent there a quite rough psychiatric treatment, including electroshock therapy. In 1962 when he returned to Paris he realized that he was released from Dior and, lucky for us, he had to start his own fashion label YSL.
5. He Feminized the Male Wardrobe
Yves Saint Laurent was the one who succeeded feminizing the basic shapes in almost the entire male wardrobe. He is most known for his "Le Smoking" tuxedo jacket, for his see-through blouses, for his peasant blouses, bolero jackets and even pantsuits and smocks. He was famous not only for adapting the tuxedo for women but also for creating the safari jackets for women, for adapting the pea coats and the flying suits.
6. He Posed Nude
I know, I know, this was a surprise for me too. Apparently YSL posed nude for his first eau de toilette for men, Pour Homme in 1971, long before Marc Jacobs took it all off for Bang. In 1997, in a business magazine, Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent's business partner, said about the image, "It was just provocation on the part of Yves Saint Laurent. The picture didn't specifically target the gay population, even though it resonated strongly among them. In any case the photo was hardly published at the time. Just barely in the French press. It was only much later on that it became an almost mythical icon." Pretty daring, right?
7. Numerous Awards
I’m sure that you can imagine that he received extremely numerous awards along the years because he really was a fashion genius, so I’ll mention just a few of them. In 1999, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement award from The Council of Fashion Designers of America and in 2007 his importance on French culture was recognized when he was appointed Grand Officer of the Legion d'honnerur by French President at that time, Nicolas Sarkozy.
He really was an inspiration for every fashion designer and his work had such a big impact on the entire fashion world. I hope you enjoyed my little article and I hope you got to know a little better this amazing and talented fashion legend. Do you know any other interesting facts about Yves Saint Laurent that I haven’t mentioned? Please, let me know!