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Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent (FRENCH ALGERIA, 1936–2008)

French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent pioneered “cross-design” in fashion, taking inspiration from street trends to modernize haute couture.


Saint Laurent was the first to launch a ready-to-wear label, YSL Rive Gauche Prêt-à-Porter. He was the first couturier to open boutiques for both men and women. Using traditional menswear fabrics and designs for women, Saint Laurent also literally cross-dressed, giving men and women alike chic pant suits, elegant tuxedo jackets and urban safari gear. By blurring gender-specific design, he empowered individual style while creating a scissor-sharp fashion aesthetic of sensual ease and beauty. Many of his designs are today considered timeless classics.


Born to French parents in Oran, Algeria, in 1936, Saint Laurent went to Paris at age 17 to study fashion at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Just two years later, in 1955, his remarkable sketches were shown to Christian Dior, then the world’s reigning couturier, who hired him immediately.


Surprisingly soon thereafter, Dior publicly chose Saint Laurent as his successor, which sadly proved prescient when the fashion legend died unexpectedly, in 1957. A mere slip of a youth, the 21-year-old Saint Laurent was nevertheless up to the challenge. He shook the traditional couture clientele to its core with youthful silhouettes and styles like the A-line trapeze dress that hung with seeming effortlessness from the shoulders, the antithesis of the pinched waists and molded skirts that had been all the rage after the deprivations of World War II.


Other highly coveted collectibles poured from his imagination, such as the black crocodile motorcycle jacket, an early intimation of Saint Laurent’s passion for subverting — or is it obverting? — street style, which was then dominated by the anti-bourgeois beatniks of Paris’s Rive Gauche.


After a mandated spell in the torturous French military, Saint Laurent suffered a nervous breakdown and was dismissed by Dior in 1962. Out of the ashes rose the Age of Yves. With Pierre Bergé, his then-lover who became his lifelong business partner and friend, the designer founded Yves Saint Laurent YSL to encompass prêt-à-porter, or ready-to-wear. In 1966, they opened the first YSL Rive Gauche women’s boutique in Paris, followed soon thereafter by YSL Rive Gauche for men. Saint Laurent had given birth to a global brand.


His revolutionary Mondrian mini dress from 1965 is a core element of his fashion biography. It is a prime example of how Saint Laurent, an avid art lover and collector, looked to painters, from Goya to Picasso, Ingres to Matisse, for inspiration.


With its pure lines and hues, Mondrian’s ground-breaking 1935 color-block painting Composition C transmutes beautifully into a dress that is highly valued by collectors of contemporary fashion and widely copied commercially to this day. The design is the epitome of Saint Laurent’s aesthetic, requiring a meticulous hand piecing of each color block so that, despite the body’s curves, the visual plain is as flat as a canvas when the garment is worn. Mondrian’s purity met its match in Saint Laurent. (One of the pattern cutters, according to Saint Laurent expert and fashion journalist Laurence Benaïm, was another renowned perfectionist: a young Azzadine Alaia!)


In Yves Saint Laurent: The Impossible Collection (Assouline, 2020), the Mondrian dress is shown worn on the cover of Paris Vogue, as well as on British Sudanese model Alek Wek in a photographic trifold by Christoph Sillem from 1998. Saint Laurent consistently used Black models, like Mounia, Iman and Naomi Campbell, and he drew endless inspiration from different ethnicities and cultures, in no small part because of his Algerian roots.


At his best, like any artist, Saint Laurent used his nervous energy to feed his fertile imagination with all that inspired him. Creation gave him momentary peace, his confidence unassailable. “Nowhere is Saint Laurent more excessive than in his talent,” Cathy Horyn penetratingly noted in the New York Times in 2000.


And no historical haute couture collection is more excessive than Saint Laurent’s Spring/Summer 1988 line. Entirely hand embroidered by Lesage on 273 yards of ribbon, it took 670 hours, 250,000 sequins in 22 colors and 250,000 pearls to make. Among the most expensive couture garments ever, the “Sunflowers” version sold for $450,000 in 2019 at Christie’s in Paris.


“I am no longer concerned with sensation and innovation, but with the perfection of my style,” Saint Laurent said four years before retiring, in 2002. After a long period of ill health, he died at his home in Paris on June 1, 2008. He was 71.


Browse an extraordinary collection of Yves Saint Laurent evening dresses, shirts and more today on 1stDibs.

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Yves Saint Laurent 1987 "LOVE" Poster
By Yves Saint Laurent
Located in Riverdale, NY
Yves Saint Laurent 1987 Love poster which came from the old YSL showroom on 57th St, NY. This poster was in Pierre Berge's office. This poster is mounted in original black frame and ...
Category

1980s French Other Vintage Yves Saint Laurent

Materials

Paper

Yves Saint Laurent Sterling Silver Bracelet
By Yves Saint Laurent
Located in New York, NY
A fine and elegant sterling silver bracelet by Yves Saint Laurent. YSL's classic take on the link bracelet comes in the form of oversized links and a streamlined shape. Marke...
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1970s Modern Vintage Yves Saint Laurent

Materials

Sterling Silver

Yves Saint Laurent "Love" Poster, 1996
By Yves Saint Laurent
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Original Yves Saint Laurent "Love" poster from 1996 featuring a pink bow motif with different shades of pink, green, blue, and a yellow star, all surrounding the word "love" in the c...
Category

1990s French Yves Saint Laurent

Materials

Maple, Paper

Yves Saint Laurent Love Poster, 1997
By Yves Saint Laurent
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Original Yves Saint Laurent "Love" poster from 1997 featuring vibrant colored stripes with the word "LOVE". Newly framed in light maple wood frame. Other years also available. In ...
Category

1990s French Yves Saint Laurent

Materials

Maple, Paper

Yves Saint Laurent Love Poster, 1998
By Yves Saint Laurent
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Original Yves Saint Laurent "Love" poster from 1998 featuring vibrant colored blocks with the word "LOVE". Newly framed in light maple wood frame. Other years also available. In 1...
Category

1990s French Yves Saint Laurent

Materials

Maple, Paper

Yves Saint Laurent Love Poster, 1999
By Yves Saint Laurent
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Original Yves Saint Laurent "Love" poster from 1999 featuring a motif of light blue doves with the word "LOVE". Newly framed in light maple wood frame. Other years also available. ...
Category

1990s French Yves Saint Laurent

Materials

Paper

1970s Yves Saint Laurent LOVE Silk Scarf Custom Pillow
By Yves Saint Laurent
Located in Stamford, CT
1970s Yves Saint Laurent silk LOVE scarf newly made into a custom oversized square pillow. Backed in medium blue velvet. Down insert. Hidden bottom zipper.
Category

1970s French Modern Vintage Yves Saint Laurent

Materials

Silk, Velvet, Down

D' Yves Saint Laurent Paris Store Display Factice Perfume Bottle
By Yves Saint Laurent
Located in Hamilton, Ontario
D' Yves Saint Laurent store display factice perfume bottle. Does not contain fragrance and used for display only.
Category

20th Century Yves Saint Laurent

Materials

Glass

Blue and White YSL Yves Saint Laurent Woven Throw Blanket
By Yves Saint Laurent
Located in Oklahoma City, OK
Beautiful blue and white woven vintage Yves Saint Laurent blanket. This piece features blue and white woven wool fabric with the YSL logo on one side against a white background.
Category

20th Century American Hollywood Regency Yves Saint Laurent

Materials

Cotton

Vintage YSL Yves Saint Laurent Lucite and Metal Chunky Link Necklace
By Yves Saint Laurent
Located in Topeka, KS
Handsome and versatile YSL (Yves Saint Laurent) chunky link necklace or belt of Lucite and metal in beautiful tones of pewter and gun-metal grey, circa 1960-1970s. This wonderful vin...
Category

Late 20th Century French Modern Yves Saint Laurent

Materials

Metal

Solid Steel and Leather Bench by Yves Saint Laurent
By Yves Saint Laurent
Located in Las Vegas, NV
For the Uber sophisticated, a rare piece of Yves Saint Laurent furniture. A one of a kind bench constructed of solid steel and upholstered in butter soft leather. This bench is solid...
Category

20th Century Modern Yves Saint Laurent

Materials

Steel

1950-1970 Pedestal Table or Coffee Table in YSL Style in Gilded Iron
By Yves Saint Laurent
Located in Paris, FR
Gilded iron pedestal table or coffee table in the style Yves St Laurent, the glass top is 85 cm diameter. Good condition, circa 1970, similar model of Robert Goossens in Bergé Auc...
Category

1970s French Art Deco Vintage Yves Saint Laurent

Materials

Iron

Yves Saint Laurent Mis à Nu – Jeanloup Sieff
By Jeanloup Sieff 1, Yves Saint Laurent
Located in London, GB
First edition hardcover, published by Albin Michel, Paris, 2010 in an acrylic slipcase. ‘Yves Saint Laurent Laid Bare’ A collection of Jeanloup Sieff’s incredibly intimate and unpr...
Category

2010s French Yves Saint Laurent

Materials

Paper, Acrylic

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Yves Saint Lauren - All About Yves. Larousse, Paris 2016. First edition. Lushly produced with Illustrations from the start of his career onwards with expensively produced facsimile...
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Late 20th Century French Yves Saint Laurent

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Two-Tone Vintage Shirt Yves Saint Laurent Silk Paris France, 1980s-1990s
By Yves Saint Laurent
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Women's Yves Saint Laurent shirt in pure silk. The leopard print is two-tone in black and white. The size is an Italian 50/52 (height 67cm, chest 52cm, shoulder to shoulder 41cm, le...
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Mid-20th Century French Mid-Century Modern Yves Saint Laurent

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Yves Saint Laurent "Love" Lithograph Poster, 1975
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Original Yves Saint Laurent "Love" lithograph poster from 1975 featuring vibrant colors of orange, blue, pink and green with a black snake and the word "LOVE". Newly framed in a ligh...
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Yves Saint Laurent Love Poster, 1984
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  • Yves Saint Laurent Love Poster, 1984
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Rare Joe Eula 1962 YSL Fashion Illustration
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Graphic fashion illustration of a design from Yves Saint Laurent's first collection under his own name in 1962 by Joe Eula. Eula, who later was Halston's creative director, began his...
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YSL Black Suede Embroidered Logo Handbag
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Yves Saint Laurent, Images of Design 1958-1988
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  • Yves Saint Laurent, Images of Design 1958-1988
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