Fashion king Yves Saint Laurent dies

Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent, considered by many as the greatest fashion designer of the 20th Century, has died in Paris at the age of 71.

Saint Laurent changed the face of the fashion industry when he became chief designer of the House of Dior at 21.

He designed clothes that reflected women’s changing role in society: more confident personally, sexually and in the work-place.

He retired from haute couture in 2002 and had been ill for some time. Saint Laurent died on Sunday evening in the French capital, the Pierre-Berge-Saint Laurent Foundation announced.

Pierre Berge, the designer’s former business and personal partner, said he had died at his home after a long illness. He did not give details. French President Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute to Saint Laurent’s “creative genius”.

‘I draw on woman’

“I found my style through women,” Saint Laurent once said.

“That’s where its strength and vitality comes from because I draw on the body of a woman.”

He changed forever what women wear, introducing trouser suits, safari jackets and sweaters, BBC arts correspondent Razia Iqbal notes.

Saint Laurent was a great innovator, helping to revitalise haute couture while making ready-to-wear design popular.

The editor of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, said he had helped democratise fashion:

“Before that people had small salons for rich people.

“Saint Laurent brought it to the people.

“He was young and groovy. Pop stars were hanging out with him and younger generations related to him.”

‘Devastating’ news

President Sarkozy said the designer had been “the first to elevate haute couture to the rank of art and that gave him global influence”.

YSL ‘understood what women really wanted’

“Yves Saint Laurent infused his label with his creative genius, elegant and refined personality… because he was convinced that beauty was a necessary luxury for all men and all women,” he added.

Speaking on French radio, Pierre Berge said his former partner had empowered women.

“In this sense he was a libertarian, an anarchist and he threw bombs at the legs of society,” he said.

“That’s how he transformed society and that’s how he transformed women.”

Famous French embroiderer Francois Lesage, who worked 40 years with the designer, said he was “devastated” by news of his death.

“I have never known a designer who would give so much thought to something when it was proposed to him,” he told French TV.

“It is a great grief for me.”

Life of ill-health

Born in the Algerian city of Oran at a time when the North African country was a French colony, he had a precocious talent.

His first collection caused a sensation with its gently flared dresses and jackets that set the mould for 1950s fashion.

Within three years, Dior had died and Yves St Laurent had taken his place. He took the world by storm with his trouser suits, highly coloured ethnic prints and designs inspired by the art world.

Taunted as a schoolboy because of his homosexuality, Yves St Laurent suffered mental and physical ill health for much of his life and he appeared in public only rarely.

Did you know the designs of Yves Saint Laurent? Are you a designer who was inspired by him or did you work with him? Have you ever worn one of his creations?

What contribution do you think he made to the fashion industry?

Add you tribute messages.

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Fashion calendar – US, Brazil and France

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Apr. 26 – Apr. 30, 2006 New York Worldwide Urban Fashion Week
A mix of trade shows, fashion shows, seminars, and parties that allow buyers and sellers of urban clothing to connect.
Apr. 28 – Apr. 29, 2006 New York Manhattan Vintage Clothing and Antique Textile Show and Sale
Features 75 vintage clothing and antique textile dealers. 14 Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W. 18th St. between Sixth and Seventh Aves. $20; VIP $15.
May 3 – Sep. 4, 2006 New York AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion
Designs from the past 30 years, set in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s English Period rooms.
May 5 – May 7, 2006 New York BK Fashion Week {End}
The debut of Brooklyn’s own version of Fashion Week will feature Brooklyn-based designers. Special invitees include Jay-Z, Spike Lee, and Cynthia Nixon.
At the Tobacco Factory in Dumbo.
May 7 – May 9, 2006 New York Acessories TheShow
A trade show at The Javits Center.
May 11, 2006 New York Parsons: The New School for Design Line Debut Fashion Show
Up-and-coming designers debut their fashion lines at the Angel Orensanz Foundation, where Zac Posen held his first show. Angel Orensanz Foundation, 172 Norfolk St. 7pm.
May 14 – May 15, 2006 New York The Makeup Show NYC
A tradeshow for for professionals in the makeup and beauty industry. Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 W. 18th St.
Jun. 1 – Jun. 9, 2006 Rio de Janeiro Women’s Ready to Wear
Spring/ Summer 2007 collections.
Jun. 6, 2006 New York Max Azria and BCBG Max Azria
Preview Resort 2006 designs for the two collections.
1450 Broadway, 16th fl., between 40th and 41st Sts. 4pm.
Jun. 6 – Jun. 8, 2006 New York New York Shoe Expo
Over 600 footwear fashion brands.
Jun. 15 New York

Tory Burch Holiday/Resort 2007 Collection
99 Madison Ave., 12th fl., near 29th St. 10am-6pm.

Jun. 19 New York Bill Blass Resort Collection Preview
550 Seventh Ave., 12th fl., between 39th and 40th Sts. 11:30pm.
Jun. 20 – Jun. 26, 2006 Sao Paulo Women’s Ready to Wear
Spring/Summer 2007 collections.
Jun. 25 – Jul. 3, 2006 Milan Menswear
Spring 2007 collections.
Jun. 30 – Jul. 3, 2006 Paris Menswear
Spring 2007 collections.
Jul. 5 – Jul. 8, 2006 Paris Women’s Haute Couture
Fall 2006 collections.
Aug. 6 – Aug. 8, 2006 New York Acessories TheShow
A trade show at The Javits Center.
Sep. 23 – Oct. 1, 2006 Milan Women’s Ready to Wear
Spring 2007 collections.
Sep. 8 – Sep. 15, 2006 New York New York Fashion Week
Spring 2007 collections.
Oct. 1 – Oct. 9, 2006 Paris Women’s Ready to Wear
Spring 2007 collections.
Oct. 14 – Oct.16, 2006 New York Bridal Fashion Week
Runway shows featuring designers from around the world.
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