Rawsthorn, Alice Yves Saint Laurent

ISBN 13: 9780006383963

Yves Saint Laurent

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9780006383963: Yves Saint Laurent

An in-depth analysis of the business empire set up by Yves Saint Laurent's lover Pierre Berge and an insight into the life of a tragic 20th-century genius.

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Review:

British journalist Rawsthorn capably depicts the neurasthenic personality of France's famous fashion designer, born in Algeria in 1936. She really excels, however, in her savvy account of the industry's transformation as emphasis shifted from haute couture handmade for the rich to ready-to-wear designed for the (fairly affluent) masses. Saint Laurent and his astute lover/business manager, Pierre Berg launched many trends, including the licensing of his name to adorn everything from sheets to sunglasses. A business book as much as a biography: nice work on both counts.

From the Publisher:

Yves Saint Laurent is arguably the greatest fashion designer of thiscentury. World-renowned since the age of twenty-one, when he shot to fame asthe savior of Christian Dior, he has changed the way that women dress with aseries of innovations--from trouser suits and leather boots to peasant shawlsand safari jackets--now regarded as classics. His business empire has become arole model for the fashion and beauty industries, establishing RiveGauche as the first chain of ready-to-wear boutiques, launching Opium as abestselling perfume, and opening up the vast Asian market.

Raised in colonial Algeria, Saint Laurent was taken on by Dior as an assistantwhile studying in Paris as a teenager. Hailed as a hero in France for savingthe company after Dior's death, his world collapsed when he was conscriptedinto the French army. Saint Laurent broke down and was committed to a militaryhospital where he was brutally treated. His lover, Pierre Bergé, rescuedhim and set him up in his own couture house. Thanks to Saint Laurent's geniusand Bergé's business acumen, their company dominated fashion throughoutthe 1960s and '70s, making them fabulously wealthy. But the pressures of fameand the commercial constraints of fashion took a toll on Saint Laurent. Thecharismatic young man who partied with Rudolf Nureyev and Andy Warhol fell preyto addiction and depression, retreating from the world to live as a recluse,while Pierre Bergé became a force in the French arts and in politics. AsSaint Laurent withdrew, his financial affairs came under scrutiny, culminatingin the political storm over the sale of his empire in 1993 to astate-controlled company.

Alice Rawsthorn has followed the fashion industry for many years for theFinancial Times of London, and her unique access has enabled her towrite this biography, the first full account of Saint Laurent's life andbusiness. Full of the drama and excitement of the fashion scene, Yves SaintLaurent is the remarkable story of a remarkable man.
Copyright © 1996 by Alice Rawsthorn.

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