June 1, 2005
Yves Saint Laurent
In the wake of his nervous breakdown, Saint Laurent was released from Dior and started his own label together with Pierre Berge with the now-famous initials of YSL. During the 1960s and 1970s the firm popularized fashion trends such as the beatnik look, tweed suits, tight pants and tall, thigh-high boots, including the creation of arguably the most famous classic tuxedo suit for women in 1966, the Le Smoking suit. Among his muses were Loulou de La Falaise, the daughter of a French marquis and an Anglo-Irish fashion model, Betty Catroux, the half-Brazilian daughter of an American diplomat and wife of a French decorator, Talitha Pol-Getty, who died of drug overdose in 1971, and Catherine Deneuve, the iconic French actress. Ambassador to the couturier during the late 1970s and early 80s was London socialite millionairess Diane Boulting-Casserley Vandelli, making the brand ever more popular amongst the European jet-set and upper classes.
In 1993, the Saint-Laurent fashion house was sold to the pharmaceuticals company Sanofi for approximately $600,000,000. In 1999 Gucci bought the YSL brand and Tom Ford designed the ready-to-wear collection while Saint-Laurent designed the haute couture collection. Since his retirement in 1998 Saint-Laurent has become increasingly reclusive and has spent a much of his time at his house in Marrakech, Morocco.
In 2002, dogged by years of poor health, drug abuse, depression, alcoholism, criticisms of YSL designs, and problems with lead designer Tom Ford, Saint-Laurent and Gucci closed the illustrious couture house of YSL. While the house no longer exists the brand still survives through its parent company Gucci.
The pret-a-porter line is still being produced under the direction of Stefano Pilati after Tom Ford retired in 2004, while the boxer briefs sold all over the world still carry the brand name.