When I was a young fashion design student in the 90s, the terms Mondrian shift, Le Smoking Tuxedo and Safari jacket were standard lingo for classic wardrobe staples that every woman will own one day. These were not just a blouse or a dress kind of clothes. They were clothes that were designed specifically to liberate women of the day. And they were all the creation of Yves Saint Laurent (affectionately known as YSL).
YSL was a forerunner in his time. Like Coco Chanel a decade before him, he devoted his designing career to creating clothing that clothed the masses, not just 500 out of the world’s population. He said it best when he said “Chanel freed women, and I empowered them”. The YSL women was confident, smart and very relaxed. It was like he was revenging his abrupt dismissal from the house of Christian Dior, where gated garters and suffocating corsets was the order of the day, when he put out his designs that mashed masculine forms with feminine silhouettes and utilised materials that worked everyday.
In his lifetime, YSL was a tortured soul, suffering from depression and was constantly reclusive. He died of brain cancer on 1 June 2008 at home in Paris and was given a Catholic funeral at the beautiful Eglise St. Roch at rue du Faubourg (right opposite our apartment). According to his wishes, his body was cremated and ashes scattered in the Jardin du L’ majorelle in Marrakech, Morocco, which he owned and often visited to find refuge from the world.
If you think I am writing this because I am doing some intellectually study reminiscing one of my favourite fashion designers, I am not. I am writing this because I still can’t get over the fact that my beloved Yves Saint Laurent, both an icon and a brand, became “Saint Laurent” under new Creative Director Hedi Slimane in 2012. Like a death and a funeral, still feels so surreal to me (I’m saving all my YSL paper bags btw, recycling them no more) that I can’t bear to look at the new Duffel the way I used to look at the Muse -“Ain’t Laurent without Yves”. Wear it proudly here.