Yves Saint Laurent show a tribute to prolific icon

Mon Nov 3, 2008 3:08pm EST
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By Alexandria Sage

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters Life!) - Pierre Berge didn't know the first thing about fashion when he sat down one day in 1958 to watch the first Christian Dior show under the atelier's new youthful designer, Yves Saint Laurent.

Still, even with Berge's layman's eye, it was immediately apparent that the young designer had electrified the crowd.

"Even though I knew nothing about fashion, I realized something was happening," recalled Berge, who enjoyed a 50-year collaboration with Saint Laurent that lasted until the designer's death in June.

The first public showing of Saint Laurent's work since his death opened at San Francisco's DeYoung Museum this past weekend. The collection of 130 ensembles spans 40 years from the designer's trapeze dresses for Dior to the famous tuxedos, jumpsuits and safari jackets that revolutionized women's fashion and established the Yves Saint Laurent label as the icon of innovative couture.

"Hailed as the last of an era, Saint Laurent was the bridge between the golden age of haute couture and the new modernity," according to the show notes.

Fashionable women including French actress Catherine Deneuve, Princess Grace of Monaco and Bianca Jagger, who wore a white tuxedo suit to her marriage to Mick Jagger, were fans.


Whereas Coco Chanel liberated women from the confines of corsetry, Yves Saint Laurent gave her "strength and power," Berge said. The "le smoking" tuxedo, made for French singer Francoise Hardy in 1966, turned the symbol of male power on its head.   Continued...

<p>Evening ensemble by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent are shown at the deYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California October 30, 2008. The first public showing of Saint Laurent's work since his death in June opened with a collection of 130 ensembles spanning 40 years of work that revolutionized how the modern woman dresses. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith</p>