Icon: Yves Saint Laurent

YVES ONLY. With a knack for exquisite style and a drive to rebel, Yves Saint Laurent was the designer who moved fashion forward


Taken by photographer Jeanloup Sieff in 1971 for YSL’s first men’s fragrance

This year sees the release of two new movies, “Yves Saint Laurent” and “Saint Laurent,” which examine the life not the brand of the famous Yves Saint Laurent. Born in 1936, the designer started his fashion journey at the age of 18 in Paris before being noticed by none other than Christian Dior. After saving the house of Dior from financial collapse in 1958, the Algerian-born genius inspired the democratization of fashion by becoming the first couturier to release a readyto-wear collection under his own label.

But what makes an icon if not a series of groundbreaking, and even heartbreaking, events. Saint Laurent was a subversive, countercultural designer who walked a fine line between refined elegance and rebellious ingenuity. His creation of le smoking tuxedo suit and the controversial Nazi occupation-inspired show serve as perfect examples.


“We must never confuse elegance with snobbery”



The designer was also one of the first to book models of varying ethnicities and complexions for runways.

But all the creative and commercial achievement came at a cost. Suffering a nervous breakdown at an early age, the designer struggled with a drinking problem and depression throughout his adult life. Soberingly though, it is likely that his more vulnerable side heralded many of his brilliant fashion creations.