Friday, June 20, 2008

A Great One is gone.

Yves Saint Laurent, the designer who dominated fashion during all of the formation style years of my life, died June 1, 2008, of a brain tumor. My brother died on February 14, 2008, of a brain tumor. Saint Laurent and my brother had absolutely nothing in common except a dread disease and the fact that their passing leaves me feeling that a good chunk of my life, real and aspirational, is gone for good.

Saint Laurent basically invented modern fashion. He started the trend of turning street fashion into couture; he was the first to use African models on his Courture runway, he turned the pantsuit into "Le Smoking" and made it chic. He elevated the status of ready-to-wear with his Rive Gauche line while still creating the most elaborate haute couture imaginable. It’s one fashion writer’s opinion that many of the trends created by YSL, like sheer blouses and thigh-high boots, were “scary monsters.” Well, one person's monster is another person's fabulous, is all I can say.

Both Bianca and Mick Jagger wore YSL at their wedding.

Saint Laurent also set the standard for celebrity excess. His pre-collection mini-breakdowns were famous (and in fact parodied in one of Harold Robbins' trashier trash novels, "The Adventurers." ) He posed nude for a fashion magazine well before every Tom, Dick and Myle Cyrus was doing it. He used drugs, he drank to excess, he became a recluse, but he always managed to produce fabulous and newsworthy fashion.

Vintage Saint Laurent for sale at that fabulous website, The Frock. It's worth a closer look.

In the 60s and 70s the only magazines my parents subscribed to were "Life" and "Newsweek." I can still remember the fuss those rather staid magazines made over YSL's Mondrian dresses; you'd think he invented a vacine or something. His release of Opium perfume created another media sensation. Imagine, someone glamorizing drugs -- in the 70s!!!

Saint Laurent abruptly fell from fashion favor in the 1990s. He didn’t do minimalist and he didn't do grunge, and after 30 years on top of the fashion heap, he probably didn't care, either. Then, after he retired in 2002, he simply disappeared. Reading articles about his death online I came across many a reader comment that said “I thought he was already dead.” Look upon his works ye Mighty, and despair.
The Sundance Channel broadcasts the documentaries "Yves Saint Laurent 5 avenue Marceau 75116 Paris" and "Yves Saint Laurent: His Life and Times" from time to time. Try to catch them if you can.