June 1, 2008

Yves Saint Laurent.


ADDED: The official YSL website is extremely impressive. You can view designs going all the way back to 1962 and avant.

MORE: Robin Givhan writes:
In the 1960s and '70s, when he was at the height of his influence, he brought popular culture, a mannish swagger, sexual power and ethnic awareness to fashion. He gave women a wardrobe that spoke of confidence and authority. He didn't give them armor for the boardroom as much as he gave them the sartorial equivalent of chutzpah, tough talk and bawdiness. He gave dames and broads their costumes.
AND: I've never had any YSL clothes, but I've worn this perfume for years:


rhhardin said...

The last Mondrian.

vbspurs said...

Oh no! I can't believe it. RIP...

(I also can't believe how I have AP and Reuters feeds on my Kindle, and I had to find out about it on Althouse; beh)

I only JUST finished reading this book centering around the fashion rivalry of YSL and Karl Lagerfeld:

The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris

One of the few times a book's evocative and sexy title lives up to its name. Highly recommended, especially as the author does a very fair job in covering both YSL and Lagerfeld's sides of their almost 60 year mortal feud.

I wonder what Karl had to say, when he heard of Saint-Laurent's death?


George said...

Read somewhere that he smoked 100 cigarettes a day.

5 pack-a-day habit!

rhhardin said...

Kroger has socks to go with it today on sale.

vbspurs said...

George, he did everything. He started on marijuana, then went to LSD, then of course came his famous coke habit, and later he became an alcoholic.

Just this year, he was caught by photogs having fallen on a Paris street -- observers said dead drunk, but who can know. I won't post of a photo of that.

Instead, this is the way everyone should remember him.

YSL at 21 years-old

The day he was appointed director of Christian Dior, after the death of the legendary designer who had passed unexpectedly in 1957.

People from that era still remember the shock of finding out a 21 year-old lad from Algeria (a pied noir) whose towering skinny frame and black glasses made him resemble Buddy Holly, had succeeded the King of Fashion.

It must've been like the College of Cardinals electing a 21-year old Pope. Amazing.


vbspurs said...

The official YSL website

You'll notice it says the Fondation Pierre Bergé/YSL.

Since this is a gay-centric blog, it would be remiss not to mention his long-time lover, Pierre Bergé.

Yeah, they split up as lovers in the mid-70s, but Bergé cultivated and practically created the "Mythos" Saint-Laurent out of nothing.

Whereas anyone who was lively, beautiful or interesting could penetrate Lagerfeld's inner circle of friends, gaining acceptance to YSL's milieu was like trying to crash Buckingham Palace.

Bergé made sure of that.

Again, I wonder what if anything, he said on hearing of his lover's death. Men of that era, even a demi-gangster like him, were more circumspect though. I would be surprised if they asked him that question like that.

"Business partner" would be more like it.


the wolf said...

Looks like the Partridge Family bus.

Ger said...

The first suit I ever bought for myself - back in the late 70's - was an YSL.

Very nice wool 3 piece. I always enjoyed wearing it.

It still hangs in a suit bag in my closet. Not that I have been able to fit into it for a couple of decades.

ricpic said...

And he shall be honored
Who made beauty
To dwell in,
For the dross
In which he did dwell
- In which we all do dwell -
Shall fall away and be no more,
But his WORK
Will in his honor stand.

rcocean said...

"since this is a gay-centric blog, it would be remiss not to mention his long-time lover, Pierre Bergé."

And when did this happen? Sorry, my "Gaydar" is very bad.

rhhardin said...

It still hangs in a suit bag in my closet.

I haven't bought a suit since around 1960. My college suits, however, still hang in my closet. I think they probably still fit. Same weight, but who knows.

Also a rack of ties, less a couple I used a piece of last year, to try to secure a loose end on a matching dog collar. You can't be too careful with fashion.

Palladian said...

Adieu Yves...

chuck b. said...

One of those tempting (but meaningless) little coincidences that he died the same weekend Sex and the City is the no. 1 movie at the box office.

Maggie45 said...

I hope he's at peace now.

Every time I wear Opium (half a spray only..it's powerful stuff), men ask me, in a kind of whisper usually, what is that fragrance you're wearing....they want to buy some for their wives. lol

Chip Ahoy said...

rhhardin nailed it right off.

But now I am sad. Everybody's dying! The great sadness that has overcome me upon hearing this news has caused me to ... cause me to ... starve myself!

*weeps unconsolably*

*looks around*

*becomes embarrassed, controls self*


Chip Ahoy said...

My dad taught me how to apply cologne or the milder eau de toilette, he said, "You spray it in the air in front and above yourself, then step into it. This gives a portion of it a chance to evaporate before it lands on you," a lesson my brother missed. On any given day, he always smells as if he fell into a vat of cologne. It's impossible to be in a car with him. He won't listen to me.

vbspurs said...

And when did this happen? Sorry, my "Gaydar" is very bad.

I think the term "gay-friendly" is just as PC as "gay-centric", nevertheless, the first is IMHO, perhaps more correct. I should've used that instead on reflection.

(Don't worry, Rocean, if you're a guy, most straight males have a notoriously bad gaydar. It's much easier for women to pick on these things)


vbspurs said...

/pick out.


A classic, Maggie. That and his Paris were my two faves.

Palladian said...

In honor of Yves, I put a dab of a few of his company's perfumes on my arms, to revisit them as I haven't tested them in a long while.

"Opium" was quite a moment in perfumery, the harbinger of the big-haired, red-nail-polished perfumes of the 'Eighties. It's a wonderful smell, but I don't think anyone should wear it outside. Instead wear Estée Lauder's Cinnabar, which preceded "Opium" in creation but was beat by it in release date and marketing force. It's a much more wearable perfume of the same genre. Also note, based on my comparison of a 1970's bottle with a recent bottle, the formula of "Opium" has been changed, probably to fall in line with some EU restrictive nonsense because it gave fifteen Belgians itchy armpits. The current version doesn't smell quite as rich, sweet or resonant as the old one but, as it's such a recognizable structure, the basic effect is still there in spades.

"Y" [Pronounced "ygrec"] is a slightly forgotten one, YSL's first perfume. I have an amazingly huge (16 ounce) 1960's vintage bottle of the Eau de Toilette. I'll refer to my friend Luca Turin's description of it in his marvelous book "Perfumes: The Guide": "Y" has "... the slightly screechy feeling of silk-clad thighs rubbing together. If this were an actress, it would be Danielle Darrieux. If it were a wine it would be a Chablis. If it were a car it would be a vanilla-yellow convertible Citroën DS. If it were a piece of music it would be the theme of Les Parapluies de Cherbourg."

"Rive Gauche" is a great fragrance. Like "Paris" it's a rose-based perfume, but it's absolutely unsentimental. It's dark, rubbery, a touch smoky and one of those interesting instances where the perfume smells like its bottle looks: polished metal, hard enamel, uncompromising, a bit funereal. It's been reformulated and the new version isn't bad and isn't, all things considered, that different but I'd recommend finding an older bottle of it online.

"Paris" is a giant complicated 80's rose-based perfume in a perfect little bottle. But, as with "Opium", wear it with extreme caution and a light touch.

YSL used to make a perfume called "Champagne" in a beautiful (except for the discoloration-prone acrylic cap on the spray) champagne-cork shaped bottle. It was a fruity, decadent smell, like the remains of a glass of sweet white wine the morning after. Unfortunately the Champagne (wine) producers had a ridiculous hissy fit about the name, as they did about another once-great perfume: Caron's "Royal Bain De Champagne", and YSL changed the name of the perfume to "Yvresse". I suppose it still smells the same (I have an old bottle of it from when it was "Champagne"). Sadly, Caron's "Royal Bain De Champagne", which survived the name change to become ""Royal Bain De Caron", was later ruined by reformulation at the hands of Caron's cretinous new owners.

And for men, one of my favorite perfumes of all time: "Kouros", a very naughty perfume. Again, I'll quote Luca Turin, whose description of Kouros (like his descriptions of so many other perfumes) is absolutely spot-on: "It smells like the tanned skin of a guy with gomina in his hair stepping out of the shower wearing a pre-WWI British dandified fragrance: citrus, flowers, musk. It has that faintly repellent clean-dirty feel of other people’s bathrooms, and manages to smell at once scrubbed and promissory of an unmade bed. The fact that all these images are conjured up by a fragrance in itself so consummately abstract is a testimony to the brilliance of its creator, [perfumer] Pierre Bourdon. Such things happen not by accident but only as the work of genius."

And even a deceased Yves Saint Laurent could, artistically, physically, whatever, kick the crap out of that vulgarian Karl Lagerfeld.

vbspurs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vbspurs said...

And even a deceased Yves Saint Laurent could, artistically, physically, whatever, kick the crap out of that vulgarian Karl Lagerfeld.

What a beautifully written reply, Palladian, as ever. They're like treasure hunt surprises, every time one sees your name!

However, I have to take slight exception to your final dictum about Lagerfeld.

Yes, YSL had more innate fashion talent than Lagerfeld does, but he was prone to ruts because he believed in his own genius -- seconded by his troupe of harpies who spoke in lowered whispers before Monsieur, a pasha amongst paupers.

Lagerfeld survives and continues to be relevant long after YSL put away his cutting shears.

It's not because, as one would imagine, he can chameolonise himself to the times, though that is perhaps his greatest talent as a person.

It is, in fact, because he doesn't doubt himself -- neither as a couturier nor as a human being.

This well-spring of self-confidence (so culturally German in its roots) is his mainstay, his salvation.

Having immersed himself in the trivial for so long, you can almost forget that Karl Lagerfeld could run rings around YSL intellectually. There's no contest who is the deeper philosopher of couture -- it's Lagerfeld.

In fact, if you wish to reach for a philosophical equivalent, it's as if one can liken Saint-Laurent to Sartre, and Lagerfeld to Camus.

Yes, Sartre was a genius, Camus no less; but Camus is the one who has been proven more right by history.

(When Karl goes, an encyclopaedia of fashion knowledge throughout the Ages, something he can concoct with a mere sketch, will go with him)

YSL...well, I for one will miss his tattered soul.

Maybe that was what he was trying to do all these years: to stitch it up, vicariously.


Eli Blake said...

George (6:22)

As a matter of fact, he even lent his name and endorsement to a brand of high-end cigarettes mostly targetted to glamorous women. Most notably they appeared in the 1987 thriller No Way Out with Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman and Sean Young. In one scene Young conspicuously takes out a YSL cigarette and after another man tries to give her a light but isn't up to the task (being distracted by her cleavage) Costner steps in and does it.

Of course that was back in the days when it was expected that a gentleman would give a lady a light and she'd know how to accept it, far far different from today.

TitusThe Lebanon said...

Palladian and Victoria thank you so much for your insight and knowledge of YSL.

This is precisely why I come to this blog. The knowledge of my fellow posters.

That dress is fabulous. I have loved YSL since I was a young boy. I followed his career closely through the years and am saddened by his death.

And Althouse thank you for posting this. Again, this is why I come here and love it here.

TitusThe Lebanon said...

Althouse, you wearing that perfume makes me want to smell you more!!!

You have good taste.

Ann Althouse said...

Palladian: ""Paris" is a giant complicated 80's rose-based perfume in a perfect little bottle. But, as with "Opium", wear it with extreme caution and a light touch."

I didn't know it was supposed to be hard to wear like Opium. Now, Bandit (the perfume Palladian recommended for me to wear) -- that's insanely hard to wear.

As for the Paris bottle -- I must say that's why I tried the perfume and wanted to like it. I hate tall thin (tippable) bottles. The Paris bottle is round and utterly stable, with a variable texture that makes it seem delicate. My favorite bottle!

bill said...

Reminds me of a joke.

Why do women wear makeup and perfume? Because they're ugly and they smell bad.

Beth said...

I went through a Rive Gauche period in my late teens (late 70s). Thanks for reminding me what I loved about it, Palladian. I wasn't so sophisticated in my appreciation then; I just thought girls would find it appealing.

MadisonMan said...

For some reason known not even to me, whenever I see YSL stuff, I think of the old Bain de Soleil ads and start humming Bain de Soleil for the St. Tropez tan. Odd how my brain works.

chip ahoy: I tell my daughter: Perfume should make you lean in closer for a better sniff. It should not make you recoil in alarm. I'll say the same thing to the son if he ever starts abusing cologne.

blogger seems clogged lately.

vbspurs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vbspurs said...

Ditto, Titus, ditto.

knoxwhirled said...

I think of the old Bain de Soleil ads and start humming Bain de Soleil for the St. Tropez tan

holy cow, I didn't know that was still in my memory banks!

YSL was cool as hell back in the day