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Little Book of Yves Saint Laurent

Compact yet comprehensive, the Little Book of Yves Saint Laurent is the perfect gift for anyone who has an interest in fashion and fashion history. Emma Baxter-Wright has traced with care the journey of a young child who was the oldest of three, growing up in a world of privilege in Orana, Algeria, a ‘melting pot’ of cosmopolitan influences.

Yves Saint Laurent’s love of fashion was encouraged by his mother from a young age, but it was not until he attended the performance of Moliere’s L’Ecole de femmes, with sets and costumes designed by Christian Bernard, Saint Laurent became enchanted with a world of magic, colour and art.

Joining the House of Dior as a young fashion student he moved through the ranks under the guidance of Christian Dior, a man who saw and understood the talent and drive of the young designer. Dior understood clearly that Saint Laurent would be the next successor to the House of Dior which came to fruition with the early death of Dior at the age of 52 years.

At the age of twenty one, Saint Laurent was now considered as the Head of the House of Dior and in many aspects, the rest is fashion history. His debut show held on 30 January 1958 was a stellar event which was hailed as a massive success. It was not long after this event he was to meet his life partner Pierre Berge, a determined, successful man.

Saint Laurent pushed the boundaries of fashion throughout his career, often being influenced by Balenciaga, Chanel and in the creation of the ‘Beat’ collection, the French actress and Jazz singer Juliette Greco.

In 1961 the House of Yves Saint Laurent was launched which, no longer influenced by the constraints of Dior, saw Saint Laurent usher in a new wave of fashion, colour and shape onto the fashion scene, pieces which were also considered as wearable art, a trademark which stayed with him.

Trouble times in Paris saw him move to Marrakesh in 1968 which inspired the edgy, controversial collection of duffle coats, leather jackets and the ‘outrageous black chiffon ‘see through dress’. Trouser suites were his trade mark, but everything was considered as inspiration for the designer who loved colour, shape, form and texture but more importantly, understood a woman’s need to enjoy and wear comfortable, fashionable, fluid styles.

Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008 leaving as his legacy fashion like none other and fashion that set the trend for stylish pieces without boundaries, still noticeable throughout today’s world of fashion, but not yet equalled.

Pierre Berge went on to create the The Fondation Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent to preserve the thousands of garments, sketches and accessories which culminated in the opening of two YSL Museums, in Paris and Marrakesh which opened in October 2017 to celebrate the flamboyant genius of the man who went on to create a fresh, edgy design in Couture fashion and in doing so, became the most ‘influential designer of contemporary fashion in the twentieth century’.

Yves Saint Laurent’s rise was meteoric, his legacy astounding, his gift to women’s fashion unrivalled, his life ever changing, all of which has been beautifully co-captured in brief and illustrated within the Little Book of Yves Saint Laurent with a number of stunning pieces images from his vast collection strategically placed throughout the pages.

Author Emma Baxter-Wright
Publisher Welbeck
ISBN 9781787395541
Distributor Allen & Unwin
Released May 2021