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Yves Saint Laurent

Costume Designer

Yves Saint Laurent (1936 - 2008) French couturier, who worked fashion industry since late 1950s, creator of his own haute couture house with Pierre Bergé in 1961.

In addition to his main profession Saint Laurent also worked as theatre designer creating costumes and scenery for ballets, drama and variety shows. He designed costumes for Roland Petits ballets: Cyrano de Bergerac (1959), La Chaloupée (1960), Les Forains (1961), Notre Dame de Paris (1965), La Rose Malade (for Maya Plisetskaya); designed a number of Roland Petits revues that he staged for Zizi Jeanmaire; he dressed another famous ballerina Margot Fonteyn both onstage and offstage. He created a series of costumes for dramatic performances The Marriage of Figaro and You Must Pass through the Clouds both directed by Jean-Louis Barrault (1965), Sacred Monsters by Henri Rolland.

In 1981 Yves Saint Laurent received an International prize by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Later in 1983 he became the first ever designer awarded in his lifetime with a retrospective exhibition in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Yves Saint Laurent: 25 years of Design. In 1998-1999 the Council of Fashion Designers of America honored him the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award.

He created haute couture collections up to 2002. That year the designer announced the end of his career. January 22, 2002, a retrospective fashion show covering forty years of Yves Saint Laurents career was held at the Centre Pompidou. Ballet costume had always been a fetish for Roland Petit. In 1947 he staged Treize danses with costumes and scenery designed by Cristian Dior. But a true theatrical romance happened between Roland Petit and Yves Saint Laurent, who designed costumes for his ballet Cyrano de Bergerac, which marked the beginning of one of the greatest artistic collaborations of a choreographer and a designer in the XXth century.

Saint Laurent was the most theatrical of XX century designers. He dreamt of theatre and subsequently created numerous costumes of most diverse styles from ballet to cabaret. He was one of the few couturiers, who could comprehend the different scopes of a stage and a fashion runway. He always admired Léon Bakst, tried to imitate his work, and even created his own cabaret version of Scheherazade. The costumes he created in oriental style of first Russian Seasons were real good, but what is more interesting is the costumes he created when he wasnt recalling the past, but rather leading the avant-garde of contemporary fashion. Those are op art and pop art designs. The most popular ones take part in Roland Petits Notre Dame de Paris (1965), where Saint Laurent brilliantly combines a middle age dress with colorful and outline brevity of trending mini aesthetics. Notre Dame de Paris costumes are very Parisian and hundred percent avant-garde.

Vogue. 12 October 2010.

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