Yves Saint Laurent: Building the Ultra-Posh Fashion Empire

Yves Saint LaurentFrench actress Catherine Deneuve once said of her friend Yves Saint Laurent that he “designs for women who lead double lives.” Born in 1936, Yves Henri Donat Matthieu Saint Laurent was born in Oran, Algeria. His career in fashion was foretold at an early age, as he would spend much of his free time designing dresses for his two younger sisters.

At or around the age of 18 Laurent moved to Paris and enrolled in the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture and quickly his designs gained a lot of attention. After showing some of his sketches to the editor of French Vogue, Michel De Brunoff, Laurent was introduced to Christian Dior, who offered him employment at his own design house.

Early Success that Fuels Further Development

Yves Saint Laurent started at Dior on the bottom rung, completing menial tasks but quickly worked his way up the chain. In 1954 Laurent took home first prize in the International Wool Secretariat contest for his cocktail dress, and in 1957, when Christian Dior died at the age of 52, Yves Saint Laurent was promoted to Haute Couture designer. At the tender age of 21 years old, Laurent found himself the Head Designer of the House of Christian Dior. It’s been said that his initial couture collection in 1957 surely saved the house from financial ruin. Laurent’s designs for Dior were softer versions of what the house had previously created, and this new look catapulted Yves Saint Laurent to international super stardom.

YSL L'Homme Libre Ad CampaignIn 1960 Laurent was drafted to serve in the French Army during the Algerian War of Independence. Rumor has it that Marcel Boussac, the  owner of the House of Dior had persuaded the government in 1958 and 1959 to not draft Laurent, but after a week season in 1960 rescinded and encouraged his draft as a way to replace him as Haute Couture designer.

After less than a month in the military Yves Saint Laurent was admitted into the military hospital caused by stress and hazing from fellow soldiers. It was there that he learned of his firing from Dior, and Saint Laurent himself has said that he traces this part of his history to both his mental illnesses and drug addictions that afflicted him throughout life.

After his release from the hospital Laurent successfully sued Dior for breach of contract and formed his own fashion house with industrialist Pierre Berge. The Rive Gauche boutiques for women were established in 1966, and men’s wear followed in the 1970’s.

Timeless Yves Saint Laurent Fragrances

While probably most well known for their wearable fashions, YSL’s perfume house drives a large percentage of the brand’s sales. In 1971 Yves Saint Laurent shocked his critics with his advertising campaign for the first YSL: men’s fragrance, Pour Homme. The campaign featured Laurent himself, posing in the nude. In 2010 the infamous campaign, along with other photographs taken by the photographer Jeanloup Sieff went up for auction in Paris. With 1977 came the launch of Opium by Yves Saint Laurent, which can arguably be called the house’s most famous scent. With the name of the perfume came more controversy, with critics accusing Yves Saint Laurent of promoting drug use.


Introduced in 2006, Yves Saint Laurent L'Homme infused with the power of attraction of a man with style and passion. This is an intriguing scent for well-mannered gentlemen with a strong character and personality. Very sophisticated yet warm and charming fragrance, it opens with ginger-citrus accord, a little vetiver followed by oriental amber drydown. Some may think it resembles cigar lounge, thus gentlemen who smoke would possibly wear this scent best.
Kouros by Yves Saint LaurentKouros

Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent is typically featured year after year on bestseller lists for colognes. Launched in 1981, it can be described as an upscale, spicy fragrance. Undoubtedly masculine and alluring, Kouros is an absolutely beautiful scent that blends floral and woody notes. It's not for everyone, but it's definately one of the all-time greats. It takes a delicate hand and lot of confidence to pull off wearing this beast. If applied correctly, Kouros will be your number one compliment getter of all time. One word to describe it would be memorable.
La Nuit de L'HommeLa Nuit de L'Homme

Introduced in 2009, La Nuit de L'Homme cologne is an example of seductive, bold, and intense fragrance. The scent opens strong with cardamom, and includes notes of bergamot, lavender and cedar. As a complete fragrance, the soft and strong bouquets stir beautifully to make La Nuit De L’Homme an extravagant, evening-perfect fragrance. Extremely seductive, long-lasting, mystical and masculine are some of the words that can describe this jewel.

YSL: A Real Symbol of a Golden Era

In 1983 Yves Saint Laurent became the first living fashion designer to be honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City with a solo exhibition. In 2007 he was awarded the rank of Commander of The Legion of Honour, which is the highest decoration in France by French president Nicolas Sarkozy.

In 2008 Yves Saint Laurent died at his home in Paris of brain cancer. Throughout his career, Laurent was in many opinions, the industry’s greatest fashion designer. He cemented his status as a national icon when in 1998 at the World Cup near Paris, more than 300 models participated in a retrospective of YSL designs in celebration of the designer’s 40th anniversary as a designer in front of 80,000 present football fans and 170 international channels.