Yves Saint Laurent once said: “I do classic things for women to have the same assurance with their clothes that men have with theirs,” — this perhaps summarizes the legacy that the designer has left behind — a strong, powerful, yet feminine way of dressing for the woman breaking the status quo. After the designer’s death, the company continued to grow under the spirit of its founder, becoming one of the most sought after and powerful voices of fashion in today’s world.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane and track the footprints of this legendary design house…
1936: Yves Saint Laurent was born and grew up in Oran, Algeria
1953: At 17, he left for Paris where he showed his drawings to Michel de Brunhoff — director of French Vogue — who published several of them immediately
1955: He was introduced to Christian Dior by de Brunhoff. YSL started working with Dior.
1957: After Dior’s death, YSL took over as creative director for Dior, and launched his first collection for the company, the Ligne Trapéze, that year. It was a resounding success and won him a Neiman Marcus Oscar.
1960: Saint Laurent was drafted into French Army, where he had a nervous breakdown. Marc Bohan took over at Dior.
1962: After completing National Service, YSL set up his own fashion house with partner and lover, Pierre Bergé. Sets and costumes were designed for Pierre’s wife, the dancer Zizi Jeanmaire.
1965: YSL introduced the Mondrian dresses with abstract geometrics.
1966: YSL introduced Le Smoking – his legendary tuxedo for women. His other inventions include the reefer jacket (1962), the sheer blouse (1966), and the jumpsuit (1968)
1971: YSL continued to provoke by posing nude for the photographer JeanLoup Sieff for the Pour Homme men’s fragrance.
1972: YSL bought his namesake fashion house with Berge from Squibb drug company for $1.1 million.
1983: The Yves Saint Laurent show at Metropolitan Museum in New York opened, curated by Vreeland. It was the first museum exhibition devoted to a living designer.
1986: The Paris retrospective of YSL’s work opened at Musee des Arts de la Mode.
1987: The retrospective of YSL’s work opened at Hermitage State Museum, Saint Petersburg.
1989: YSL went public on Paris Bourse, valued at $500 million
1998: YSL showed his last ready-to-wear collection for the Rive Gauche label he had founded more than 30 years before, and handed over the role of creative director to Alber Elbaz. He carried on designing his haute couture collection.
1999: The Gucci Group acquired YSL’s parent company, and in effect the label, for $1 billion from Francois Pinault
1999: Tom Ford arrived to take control at the house. The brand entered the stratosphere where it remains today, covering perfume and menswear as well as womenswear.
2002: At his last show, a tearful Yves Saint Laurent took his final bow as his long-time muse, Catherine Deneuve, sang Ma Plus Belle Histoire d’Amour.
2005: Stefano Pilati replaced Tom Ford as creative director.
2008: Yves Saint Laurent passed away after a long period of ill health at his home in Paris on June 1, 2008. He was 71.
2012: It was announced that Hedi Slimane would replace Pilati. After his appoitment Slimane made the decision to rebrand Yes Saint Laurent, renaming the ready-to-wear line to Saint Laurent Paris.
In 2016, Anthony Vaccarello became creative director. Under his leadership, the house was reinvented yet again — while fashioning the spirit of its original founder, Vaccarello brought to the house’s collections a mix of extravagance, couture details and streetsmartness.