On this day, August 1 in the year 1936, one of the most influential fashion designers was born in Algeria. His name was Yves-Henri-Donat-Mathieu Saint Laurent, considered as a giant and genius of couture.
Yves Saint Laurent was the eldest child of three children by an insurance man and owner of a chain of cinemas. As a child, he was bullied at school so he often stayed at home, perusing his mother’s magazine and started sketching and designing clothes for his mother and sisters. He arrived in Paris at the age of 17 to study fashion design. He had always been fascinated by the equally famous Christian Dior and when he was introduced to him, Christian Dior hired him on the spot.
In 1957, Dior appointed Yves, then only 21 years old, as the chief designer of the house of Christian Dior. After a few months, Christian Dior passed away. The following year, Yves’s trapeze collection was a great success. Thus, it saved the house from financial ruin and catapulted Yves into international fame.
The year 1960 saw the conscription of Yves into the French Army and was sent to fight in the Algerian war for independence. After only 20 days, he was hospitalized due to depression. At that time, he received the news that he was fired from his job at Christian Dior. His boyfriend, Pierre Berge whom he met in 1958 after his successful first collection rescued him and helped him regained his footing in the industry.
In 1962, Yves and Pierre founded their own label Yves Saint Laurent. Their partnership would endure the test of time until Yves’s death. Yves’s popularity as fashion designer would also persist for many decades as they opened branches in major cities around the world. There were some controversies here and there but throughout his career, Yves remained as creative as ever. In 2002, he retired from active involvement in the industry.
In 2008, Yves Saint Laurent died of brain cancer at the age of 71. His life was the subject of two films which were shown after his death. Also, his 733-piece collection of arts, antiques, and furniture were auctioned off with a value of $443.1 million over three days. His house label is now owned by Kering.