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A Fashion Icon’s Legacy

On June 1, Yves Saint Laurent, one of the most influential designers of the 20th century, passed away in his home in Paris after battling brain cancer for over a year.

He was 71 years old and was considered one of the last real couturiers in French fashion.

Born in 1936 in Algeria, Saint Laurent’s interest in fashion and couture was inspired by his mother who was known for her sense of style. At a young age and after a short time studying at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, Saint Laurent left home and was hired by Christian Dior. A few years later, at only 21, he was named head of Dior after the designer’s sudden death in 1957.

In 1962, Saint Laurent created his own fashion house with partner Pierre Bergé, which became a trendsetting firm in the 1960s and 1970s. Some of the most popular breakthroughs included the “Smoking,†or tuxedo for women, and other pant suits. The “Smoking†remained the designer’s trademark through the decades.

“My job as couturier is to make clothes that reflect our times. I’m convinced that women want to wear pants,†he said.

His work was often inspired by popular artists such as Matisse, Mondrian, Van Gogh and Picasso. His muses were high-profile women of his time, including French actress Catherine Deneuve and more recently, top model Laeticia Casta.

In 1999, the Gucci group bought the YSL house and later, in 2002, the designer announced his retirement.

Saint Laurent’s ashes have been scattered in a botanical garden in Marrakech, Morocco.

“Chanel gave women freedom, Yves Saint Laurent gave them power,†said Bergé after his friend’s death.

For more information on Yves Saint Laurent, visit his foundation website at www.fondation-pb-ysl.net. For products and retail stores, visit www.ysl.com

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