Yves Saint Laurent, a shy introverted person, brought about an extroverted change in the very weave of the fabric and the cut of the costume. Yves believed that the actor was the soul of the character that he or she portrayed and the costume its vessel or body. It played as much a part in creating that sense of belief for the audience as the actor did. At the age thirteen he attended a performance of L'Ecole des femme staged by Louis Jouvet and with sets and costumes by Christian Berard, the young French designer’s fascination began. The door to his future had been opened.
Count Hubert de Givenchy had already treaded onto the silver screen earlier with the 1954 romantic comedy, Sabrina. Though Givenchy would establish Audrey Hepburn in the now classic film as a sort of unearthly and unattainable beauty, Yves Saint Laurent would bring that fleeting sense of beauty within the reach of every woman.
His tryst with the silver screen began in 1963 with Blake Edward’s The Pink Panther. Yves Saint Laurent was hired to create wardrobes for the beautiful Claudia Cardinale and Capucine, and his designs impressed critics and audiences. Though the general audience may have overlooked the designs and wardrobe, the fashion world stood up and took notice.
He was 17 when he started working for a fashion house and at 24, still at House Dior, he started designing costumes for movies. It was however with The Pink Panther that he truly branched out with his own name and flair. He would go on to design fabulous wardrobes for Leslie Caron in A Very Special Favor and Jean Seberg in Moment to Moment.
In 1966, Spanish director Luis Buñuel hired Yves Saint Laurent for his motion picture Belle de Jour. In it Yves found his muse in the form of actress Catherine Deneuve. The friendship they formed on the set of the film was to last a lifetime, Deneuve would go on to model for the designer and her physical demeanor became the base of all his designs. In turn, the actress insisted on wearing only Yves Saint Laurent dresses for her movies, she would don his creations in such films as La Chamade, Mississippi Mermaid, Liza, Un flic and The Hunger. Yves Saint Laurent’s distinct fashion sense and Deneuve’s sense of character complemented each other in a marriage of beauty and temperament.
However, it is not just the world of cinema, music and fashion that have felt his influence. His largest influence has brought women onto the same level of power as men. Women like Hillary Clinton, for example, exude a sense of confidence and power that is helping them to possibly become the single most powerful person on the planet. What has given her that sense of power and prestige? Her trademark business suit. In actuality, it wasn’t even Yves Saint Laurent that brought the suit to the women, it was Coco Chanel. Yves Saint Laurent made the suit an every woman’s suit.
So whether it’s the business woman walking down the street or the lavish design in a motion picture, the legacy of Yves Saint Laurent continues to live on.