When the fashion pages of world history are being flipped, Yves Saint Laurent would surely be found in the first few sheets. Yves Saint Laurent is a household name as far as world fashion is concerned. Introducing the brand professionally, Yves Saint Laurent is French Luxury fashion House and the founder named the brand after himself – Yves Saint Laurent.
If there’s one thing the brand is famed for is its revolutionary signature tuxedos for women and Yves Saint Laurent once claimed he brought renaissance to wardrobe of the average contemporary woman, very few critics argued on that because from all indications, you are inclined to believe such assertion by the brand father himself was true. Beyond the spectacular tuxedo jackets for women, the brand is renowned for its amazing pieces like a vast category of women’s wear, men’s wear, shoes, leather goods, jewellery and ready-to-wear products. The brand has also stretched its tentacles to the beauty and fragrance industry where it partners with L’Oreal the owner of exclusive licenses for the brand name.
The Yves Saint Laurent brand has come a long way with a track record of quality, luxury, beauty and class. It is reportedly worth over $1.21 billion in revenue. Let’s take a look at the history of this iconic brand and how everything in the present came to be.
Birth and Early Life of Founder Saint Laurent
Born Yves Henri Donat Matthieu Saint Laurent on August 1, 1936, in Oran, Algeria, Laurent rose from an average family breed by father Charles Matthieu Saint Laurent and Mother Lucienne Andree Mathieu Saint Laurent. He had two sisters – Michelle and Brigitte. At school, Laurent was constantly bullied by classmates for resembling a gay child and his lack of interest in almost everything that piqued the attention of his peers. He would often fall ill and was nervous all the time. Fashion was the only thing that enlivened him at the time. He would play with papers and make them into dolls and other fine objects. He soon began designing dresses for his mother and two sisters. Fate would have him move over to Paris via his mother who had arranged for a meeting with editor of the French Vogue, Michael de Brunhoff.
In his early teens at 17, Laurent emigrated to Paris the capital of France compliments of his mother and began working for a foremost designer known as Christian Dior – a name that rings a bell in the fashion industry. He was introduced to Christian Dior by Michael de Brunhoff who was impressed by his drawings and decided to elevate him. While working for Christian Dior, he garnered some encouraging accolades for the great work he was doing and that we are presuming, spurred him to continue. Under Christian Dior, Laurent learnt alot and improved greatly.
Creation of the Brand
In 1960, Laurent was invited back home in Algeria to come join in the African Nation's fight for independence. He obliged the invitation and went back. However, on return back to Paris in 1961, he found out that he's been relived of the working contract he had with Christian Dior. The development compelled him to sue his former boss for bridge of contract to the tune of €48,000. After receiving the money, obviously winning the case, he thought it was time to move on. Suffice to add that he was depressed by the development.
So in 1961, he birthed the brand – Yves Saint Laurent christening it after himself even though the brand was co-founded alongside his lover and partner, Pierre Berge. In 1963, the brand logo was designed and things were fully set in motion. In 1966, the brand would ascend further up the fashion ladder in its sphere by the introduction of tuxedo jackets for women which was quite the cynosure at the time and that had earned him critical acclaim alongside more money for his worries. During the 70’s, the Yves Saint Laurent brand made vogue fashion trends like safari jackets for men and women, skin tight pants and tall thigh-high boots as well as the beatnik appearance.
Same 1966, he became the pioneer of ready-to-wear clothing which went viral in his attempt to change the tides in fashion. He did this alongside Rive Gauche and a boutique with same name. He was greatly inspired by mostly women like Betty Catroux, the Half Brazilian daughter of an American envoy and spouse to a French decorator. Also on the list of women who were sources of his inspiration was Loulou de La Falaise, daughter to French marquis and Anglo-Irish runway giant. He was also inspired by Legendary French actress – Catherine Deneuve.
The 80’s and early 90’s marked the beginning of expansion for the brand as it saw itself diversify into the fragrance market and beauty products industry. Fragrances for both genders were introduced by the Yves Saint Laurent brand and sales boosted. Earlier on in 1978, the brand had already launched its cosmetic line and so the fragrance brought things mainstream for the diversification.
Challenges on the Way
In 1992, the company’s profits plummeted and its share price followed suit. The following year, things took a bad turn and the Yves Saint Laurent Fashion house was sold to Sanofi, a pharmaceutical company. In 1999, Gucci – a renowned global brand bought the Yves Saint Laurent brand and handed the design of the existing ready-to-wear collection to Tom Ford, a top-notch designer and then Saint Laurent would be in-charge of the haute couture collection when it comes to designs.
More Challenges, Retirement and Death
Since the turn of events only got more unfortunate, in 2002, after having being battered by years of ill health, illicit drug usage, depression, alcohol binging and loads of brick-bat of the Saint Laurent design, the brand closed down its couture house. He would retire back home to Marrakesh, Algeria after his final show in January of 2002. Half a decade later, he was honored with the appointment as Grand Officer of the Legion D'honnerur by then French President, Nicolas Sarkozy for his immense contributions to the growth of the fashion industry in France.
In June, 2008, Saint Laurent finally died following a brief illness and Kering took over ownership of the Yves Saint Laurent brand retaining the trademark logo on accessories and some other brand items.