Saint Laurent's death ends an era, partner says
PARIS (AFP) — Yves Saint Laurent's death marks the end of an era for high-end fashion, his longtime partner Pierre Berge said Monday.
Dubbing Saint Laurent, who died of a brain tumour aged 71 late Sunday, "the world's greatest fashion designer in the second half of the 20th century," Berge said the fashion scene had moved on since YSL made his name in the 1960s.
"He made few mistakes because he followed the evolution of women," Berge told reporters.
"Today the fashion scene has changed," he said.
YSL had been the first to put women in pants, the first to give them tuxedos, the first to use black models for his catwalk shows, Berge said. "He was audacious, he revolutionised the trade.
"Yves Saint Laurent was fully aware that he had transformed the world and fashion, that all women across the world owed him something," Berge added. "He was conscious of this and was very happy about it."
Berge, who moved in with the designer in 1961, co-founded the eponymous couture house and helmed the powerful YSL fashion empire during four decades. He said YSL's legacy forever would remain the women's tuxedo, "le smoking," in French.
"Le smoking," he said, "symbolises Saint Laurent's complicity with women."
But Berge said that in comparison with the 1960s and 1970s, when women fighting for their rights snapped up YSL pants and easy-to-wear models for work or play, today mass-produced brands such as H&M and Zara had the right designer lines for the market.
"I'm convinced the future of fashion lies with such labels," he said.
"Nowadays you can't sit in an ivory tower and tell women how to dress, it's totally outmoded and meaningless."
Couture clothes were designed for rich women, but given the current economic circumstances worldwide, designer clothes today targeted "active women, women who can afford to buy.
"In 2008 you have to marry creation, management and price," he said.
Top Paris fashion consultant Jean-Jacques Picart was of a similar opinion.
"In the 60s and 70s, there an amazing correlation between YSL's work and the social scene in France," he told AFP. "Saint Laurent's style was rooted in the changes women wanted and obtained."
Picart also said there was a huge difference between the catwalk shows of the 20th century and those of recent years.
Up until the 1990s, the models wore wearable clothes buyers could later find in the stores, but since then designers have gone for excess and ultra-extravagance on the catwalk, offering a style rather than a garment.