One of the most interesting and endearing films I saw this year on DVD was 2002's Yves Saint Laurent: His Life and Times, a documentary covering the incredible life of the revolutionary designer. His Life and Times is followed by 5 Avenue Marceau 75116 Paris, in which we observe the entire process of the creation of Saint Laurent's final collection. In these films, Saint Laurent is noticeably shy and sweet, despite how luxurious and decadent his lifestyle became as his fashion house's stature grew over 40ish years. He discusses his family, his muses, his lovers, his struggle with his own sexuality, all in a humble and soft-spoken manner.
Saint Laurent began as the head of the House of Dior, appointed by Dior himself, when he was just 21 years old. After a traumatic, hazing-filled 20-day stint in the French Army fighting the Algerian War of Independence, Saint Laurent left the army only to find he had lost his job at Dior. The stress of it all led him to be committed to an asylum, where he received electro-shock therapy. When he got out, he started his own fashion house with his intrepid life partner Pierre Bergé, who is also interviewed in the documentary. Saint Laurent's Le Smoking tuxedo suit for women was a landmark and helped his popularity to explode by the mid-60s. Despite waxing and waning drug and alcohol addiction, hIs career continued with success and his House flourished and continues to have booming popularity, although sadly Saint Laurent died June 1, 2008.
After enjoying this documentary so much, I was thrilled to hear that the De Young Museum here in San Francisco is hosting a retrospective of Saint Laurent's collections through April 2009, the retrospective's only US stop. It's definitely something I will be checking out in the new year.
Also, it was announced that this coming February Bergé will be auctioning off most of the vast collection of art (by artists such as Picasso, Cézanne, Mondrian, Géricault, Matisse, Munch, etc), furniture and museum-quality objects that he and Saint Laurent had passionately amassed over the years of their tumultuous relationship. For a closer look at the Paris apartment Saint Laurent occupied for nearly 40 years, as well as many of the incomparable items that will be up for auction, check out these amazing photos on the Vanity Fair website, and also this detailed article about their sale, which gives a good summary of the items and their historical value, as well as a forthright interview with Bergé.
Saint Laurent was undoubtedly one of the greats. We can all be inspired by the grace and dexterity with which he negotiated his storied life, and Yves Saint Laurent: HIs Life and Times, as well as 5 Avenue Marceau 75116 Paris, lovingly tell his tale and celebrate his genius.