Legendary fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent, passed away Sunday, June 1, 2008 at his Paris apartment. He was 71. The industry has lost one of its most respected, talented couturier in history. Saint Laurent’s career ran from 1957 up until 2002 when he stepped down as head designer of the fashion house under his own name. The designer reinvented the way modern women dress, designing pant suits for both day and night. He also made safari jackets, peacoats and ‘le smoking,’ the French term for a man’s style tuxedo jacket, essential pieces in a woman’s wardrobe. The patterns he used ranged from leopard prints to bohemian-inspired, florals to the ever-famous Mondrian, grid-like motif.
I was lucky enough to see two exhibits over the past few years honoring the fantastic fashion designer and the fabulous women who wore his designs. The first was in New York City at the MET. The exhibit showcased the couture wardrobe of Nan Kempner, a New York City socialite who worked as a contributing editor for French Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Most of the pieces in her collection were YSL. The exhibit showcased his extraordinary ability to combine striking color with the perfectly tailored shape. I spent hours wandering the bottom floor of the MET, mostly in awe of Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent. The other exhibit I was lucky enough to glimpse was in Paris last spring at the Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent Foundation house. The smaller exhibit really highlighted all of the looks that made him famous. Seeing original ‘le smoking’ jackets and leopard-print dresses from the late 70s inspired and stunned me. The work Saint Laurent put into his innovations became even more evident.
I was deeply saddened to read about this great fashion designer’s death. The fashion house under his name still remains one of my favorites season after season. With new, progressive designers like Stefano Pilati, the creative director at YSL now, I feel confident that Saint Laurent’s name and legacy will be preserved. YSL will always remain in my heart as one of the most talented fashion designers who ever lived.