FRANCE: FRENCH FASHION MOGUL YVES ST LAURENT ANNOUNCES HIS RETIREMENT AND CLOSURE OF HAUTE COUTURE HOUSE
- Title: FRANCE: FRENCH FASHION MOGUL YVES ST LAURENT ANNOUNCES HIS RETIREMENT AND CLOSURE OF HAUTE COUTURE HOUSE
- Date: 7th January 2002
- Summary: (W5) PARIS, FRANCE (7 JANUARY 2002) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF NEWSPAPER HEADLINES ABOUT YSL
- Reuters ID: LVAALR8753XXVHJYVG0TUWKKR81L
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Duration: 00:00:22
- Topics: Fashion
- Story Text: French fashion mogul Yves St Laurent has announced his retirement and the closing of his haute couture house at a news conference in Paris.
The internationally renowned French designer announced on Monday (7 January) that he was retiring at the age of 65, closing a major chapter in fashion history. In a statement read to media at his elegant salon in Paris, the famously reclusive designer said that after 40 years he was leaving the group that bears his name, during which YSL became one of the world's biggest fashion empires.
"I have chosen today to bid farewell to this profession which I have loved so much," an emotional Saint Laurent told a room packed with journalists, photographers and camera crews.
Saint Laurent redefined womenswear with androgynous trouser suits that pre-empted the advent of feminism by almost a decade. He created some of the most memorable looks of the 20th century, ranking among giants like Coco Chanel and Christian Dior. His women's tuxedo, safari jacket and trapeze dress won icon status and influenced countless other designers. He was also a brilliant colourist, pairing emerald greens, electric blues and crimson reds in previously unseen ways.
French actress Catherine Deneuve defined the Saint Laurent woman, a blend of icy refinement and smouldering sexuality, in the 1967 film "Belle de Jour", wearing YSL to play a woman torn between her bourgeois upbringing and her erotic fantasies.
Saint Laurent's departure does not spell the end of the label, which he sold to the state-controlled Elf Sanofi group in a controversial deal in 1993, but it probably means the death of the house's bespoke tailoring activities. Saint Laurent had already handed over the reins of his ready-to-wear collection to American designer Tom Ford but remained in charge of the house's exclusive twice-yearly haute couture collections, produced in his legendary Avenue Marceau salon.
Fashion insiders said Saint Laurent took an immediate dislike to Ford and his team of commercially minded executives from Italy's Gucci Group which acquired the Saint Laurent label in 1999.
Born in 1936 into a middle-class French family in the Algerian town of Oran, Saint Laurent joined the house of Dior in Paris in 1954. A magazine competition to design a fashion outfit led him to Paris, where he joined the house of Christian Dior in 1954. When the legendary designer died unexpectedly in 1957, Saint Laurent took over the label at the age of just 21.
By 1962, he was in business on his own.
Backed by his lover and business partner Pierre Berge, Saint Laurent set up his own label in 1962, rapidly building a global business that included the Rive Gauche chain of ready-to-wear boutiques and the best-selling perfume Opium.
In his heyday, Saint Laurent partied with stars like Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger and Rudolf Nureyev. However, drug addiction and depression quickly took their toll. By his 30s the charismatic designer had become a neurotic recluse.
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