SOME COMETS TRAVEL AT LIGHTNING SPEEDS, LEAVING BEHIND TRAILS OF STARDUST. YVES SAINT LAURENT EXUDED SUCH BRIGHTNESS ––A STELLAR BEING OF LASTING BRILLIANCE. THIS EXCEPTIONALLY CREATIVE MAN TRANSFORMED THE CONCEPT OF BEAUTY IN HIS DAY AND LEFT A TIMELESS LEGACY OF AUDACITY FOR WOMEN EVERYWHERE.
On the outside, Saint Laurent was a very well-behaved child. But inside lurked a bold and fiery temperament. In 1957, at just 21-years old, Yves was named head designer of House of Dior; four years later, he and his partner Pier Bergé, started their own fashion house, Yves Saint Laurent YSL. The man with the timid smile took 1960s Paris by storm. France adored him, as did America. He understood women and knew how to interpret their hopes and aspirations of freedom with impeccable elegance. Borrowing from menswear, Saint Laurent reinvented the safari jacket, trouser suit and tuxedo for women, and offered a younger clientele his Rive Gauche ready-to-wear collections that were both chic and bohemian.
His prolific career was marked by multiple successes, which included the Mondrian dress (F/W 1965), among others. “Yves Saint Laurent loved art,” explains Linda Vandal, National Retail and Education Manager for Yves Saint Laurent Beauté at L’Oréal Canada. “His iconic dress was inspired by the paintings of Piet Mondrian. And the YSL eyeshadow Couture Palette is still designed like a Mondrian work.” Van Gogh, Picasso and Pop Art would similarly inspire the designer, who remained at the centre on the Paris and international fashion stage for over 45 years. In 2002, Yves Saint Laurent bid adieu to the fashion world, and succumb to brain cancer 6 years later.
His death sparked a renaissance, and his lifelong genius turned the YSL brand into an icon of popular culture. Indeed, the influence of the prince of couture shows no sign of abating: two museums bearing his name—one in Paris and the other in Marrakech—will open their doors in October 2017, and his iconoclastic vision of women and beauty seems more relevant than ever.
Yves Saint Laurent had a knack for reinterpreting and enhancing everything around him. His mother was one of his first and most fundamental influences: she introduced him to fashion, and in her honour, he created the fabulous golden cases that hold all YSL cosmetics.
Paris was another important marker for the great designer, leaving its mark on his fragrance and beauty lines. “You can see the influence of Paris everywhere in his work, from the products themselves to the colours and presentation,” notes Vandal.
Travel, too, turned out to be a source of creative inspiration. Saint Laurent was fascinated by Russia and Japan, but it was Morocco that won his heart. In 1966, he and Pierre Bergé bought a magnificent villa and garden in Marrakech that had belonged to French painter, Jacques Majorelle. He began to add Majorelle blue (a cross between ultramarine and cobalt) to his colour palette. The brilliant shade was soon a must for women around the world.
THE IDEAL WOMAN
Yves Saint Laurent wanted the women he dressed to wear the perfume and make-up that completed his vision of beauty. He wanted to give women the strength to buck conventions and choose the look and style that pleased them.
Once he had revolutionized his clients’ closets by feminizing trousers and tuxedos, he proceeded to blow a fresh breeze into the cosmetic counter, with a bold focus on androgyny. “He always loved to play on the contrasts and dualities between masculine and feminine. It gave women permission to get creative,” says Vandal.
When Saint Laurent launched his beauty line in 1978, the colours and products reflected the nonconformist values he held so dear. “He wanted women to forget the old rules,” adds Vandal. “Yves Saint Laurent’s ideal woman was a confident rule breaker.”
The years have passed, but Yves Saint Laurent Beauty has maintained its provocative and liberating character. The products continue to please women in their 30s, 40s and 50s who seek a unique look, but also attract a younger “rock-chic” clientele.
A LEGACY OF BEAUTY
Yves Saint Laurent Beauty continues to embody the nonconformist spirit of the creative genius behind it, and the timeless classics remain. Fuchsia lipstick #19 turns 38 this year, while the Touche Éclat perfecting pen will be produced as a cushion compact to mark its 25th anniversary. Nevertheless, a whole new generation of products is about to transform our beauty routines. Make way for Tatoutage Couture matte lip stain! This revolutionary product, to be launched in September 2017, is like a colour tattoo for the lips, guaranteeing an intensely perfect pout for hours.
Yves Saint Laurent’s legacy is not complete without unforgettable fragrances. But note that the floral, romantic Paris (1983) gave birth to Mon Paris (2016), a heady variation with notes of cyprus. Opium, which shocked America with its musk, vanilla and myrrh in 1977, has lost none of its outrageous attraction; it pairs nicely with Black Opium (2014), with its surprising coffee undertones.
40 YEARS IS WORTH CELEBRATING!
In 2018, Yves Saint Laurent Beauty will celebrate its 40th anniversary. The plans are still under wraps, but we can be sure they will pay magnificent tribute to all women in their respective glory. Make-up artist, Tom Pecheux, has signed on as the new Global Beauty Director for YSL, so we expect exciting things for the brand. Pecheux is an ardent creative visionary who is likely to inspire us to dream in colour, and kindle our passion for beauty that is rebellious and unique.