Bergé was born in Oléron (Charente-Maritime). His mother Christiane was an amateur soprano and a progressive teacher who used the Montessori method. His father worked for the tax office and was a great rugby enthusiast. Bergé attended the Lycée Eugène Fromentin in La Rochelle, and later went to Paris. On the day of his arrival, as he was walking on the Champs-Élysées, French poet Jacques Prévert landed on him following a fall from his apartment window. During these early years in Paris, Bergé befriended the young French artist Bernard Buffet and was a great help in facilitating Buffet's success.
Bergé met Yves Saint Laurent in 1958. They became romantically involved and together launched Yves Saint Laurent Couture House in 1961. The couple split amicably in 1976 but remained lifelong friends and business partners. Bergé acted as C.E.O. of Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture until it shuttered in 2002. Highly protective of and invested in the reputation and legacy of Saint Laurent Couture, Bergé was known as the "Dean of Yves Saint Laurent" According to The New York Times, a few days before Saint Laurent died in 2008, he and Bergé were joined in a same-sex civil union known as a Pacte civil de solidarité (PACS) in France.
Yves Saint Laurent was a French fashion designer. Pierre Bergé is a French industrialist and patron. He is the co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent Couture House and onetime life partner and longtime business partner of the late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Bergé met Yves Saint Laurent in 1958. They became romantically involved and together launched Yves Saint Laurent Couture House in 1961. The couple split amicably in 1976 but remained lifelong friends and business partners.
In 1992, Bergé sold shares of the fashion house just before the company released a poor economic report. In 1996, this action was deemed to be insider trading and he was sentenced to a fine of one million Francs. After the close of the Couture house, Bergé became president of the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation.
During Bergé's eulogy of Saint Laurent, he reflected on their lifetime of memories, saying;
"I remember your first collection under your name and the tears at the end. Then the years passed. Oh, how they passed quickly. The divorce was inevitable but the love never stopped."In 1987 Bergé launched the French magazine Globe, which supported the candidacy of François Mitterrand for the presidential election. Bergé participated in all the campaign rallies of François Mitterrand (contrary to 1981, when he did not vote for Mitterrand). Bergé later went on to serve as President of the association of the friends of Institut François-Mitterrand. In 1993, he helped to launch the magazine Globe Hebdo.
A longtime fan and patron of opera, Mitterrand appointed Bergé president of Opéra Bastille on 31 August 1988. He retired from the post in 1994, becoming honorary president of the Paris National Opera. He currently serves as president of the Médiathèque Musicale Mahler, a non-profit library with extensive collections relating to 19th and 20th century music. He is also president of the Comité Jean Cocteau, and the exclusive owner of all the moral rights of all of Jean Cocteau's works.
A supporter of gay rights, he supported the association against AIDS, Act Up-Paris, and assumed ownership of the magazine Têtu. He was also one of the shareholders of Pink TV, before withdrawing. In 1994, he participated with Line Renaud in the creation of the AIDS association Sidaction, and he became its president in 1996, a position he still holds. Sidaction is one of the main associations fighting AIDS in Europe.
Bergé's philanthropic patronages have included UNESCO. In July 1992, Bergé was appointed an UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
In 2007 he supported the candidacy of Ségolène Royal. On a more general basis, he has been considered to be her sponsor. For example, after late 2008, when she was no longer heading the French socialist party and he was paying for the rental of her political office located between the French Senate and House of Representants until this arrangement ceased on March 3, 2011.
The art collection of Yves Saint Laurent and Bergé was put up for sale by the latter in February 2009, with two of twelve bronze statue heads looted from the Old Summer Palace in China during the Second Opium War among them. When China requested the return of these statues, Bergé refused and declared “I am prepared to offer this bronze head to the Chinese straight away. All they have to do is to declare they are going to apply human rights, give the Tibetans back their freedom and agree to accept the Dalai Lama on their territory." Bergé's self-admitted "political blackmail" was received with criticism in China. After Chinese collector Cai Mingchao placed the winning bid and refused to pay on "moral and patriotic grounds," Bergé decided to retain ownership of them.
Bergé has also set up the museum of Berber art in Marrakesh, Morocco, which holds a collection of Berber objects originating from many different part of Morocco, from the Rif to the Sahara.
On November 2, 2010 he bought a stake in Le Monde newspaper, along with investors Matthieu Pigasse and Xavier Niel.
Bergé has been recognized with the Order of Orange-Nassau, Officer of the Ordre National du Mérite, Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres and Legion of Honor.
Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent, known as Yves Saint Laurent (August 1, 1936 – June 1, 2008), was a French fashion designer, and is regarded as one of the greatest names in fashion history. In 1985, Caroline Rennolds Milbank wrote, "The most consistently celebrated and influential designer of the past twenty-five years, Yves Saint Laurent can be credited with both spurring the couture's rise from its sixties ashes and with finally rendering ready-to-wear reputable." He is also credited with having introduced the tuxedo suit for women and was known for his use of non-European cultural references, and non-White models.
Three documentaries have been made about Saint Laurent's life: David Teboul's "Yves Saint Laurent: His Life and Times" (2002), "Yves Saint Laurent: 5 Avenue Marceau 75116 Paris" (2002), and Pierre Thoretton's "L'Amour Fou" (2009).
Yves Henri-Donat Matthieu-Saint Laurent was born on August 1, 1936, in Oran, Algeria, to Charles and Lucienne Andrée Mathieu-Saint-Laurent. He grew up in a villa by the Mediterranean with his two younger sisters, Michèle and Brigitte. Yves liked to create intricate paper dolls, and by his early teen years he was designing dresses for his mother and sisters. At the age of 18, Saint Laurent moved to Paris and enrolled at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, where his designs quickly gained notice. Michel De Brunhoff, the editor of French Vogue, introduced Saint Laurent to designer Christian Dior, a giant in the fashion world. "Dior fascinated me," Saint Laurent later recalled. "I couldn't speak in front of him. He taught me the basis of my art. Whatever was to happen next, I never forgot the years I spent at by his side." Under Dior's tutelage, Saint Laurent's style continued to mature and gain still more notice.
Yves Saint Laurent & Pierre Bergé
Yves Saint Laurent
Yves Saint Laurent
"L'Eléphant Blanc", spring/summer 1958
Creating the trapeze silhouette for Dior, Saint Laurent has a rigid understructure veiled under a fly-away cage. A boned corset anchors the dress but allows the delusion of a free swinging cone. Seeking a shape for independence, though still tethered, the "Eléphant Blanc" dress also employs a shimmering embroidery on net that requires a finishing flourish to the thread work on a transparent surface. Thus, in both surface decoration and in structure, Saint Laurent gained the effect of ethereal, bouyant freedom while retaining the structure of the couture. From the earliest works at the house of Dior through the designer's accomplishments in his own house, Saint Laurent has practiced and perfected this modernist wielding of couture construction and proficiency to seem wholly unfettered.
Bal Masque; Ligne Trapèze (Cocktail dress), 1958
The Duchess of Windsor patronised top Paris designers throughout her life. Christian Dior was a particular favourite. She was sixty-two years old when she selected this black evening dress. It was called 'Bal Masque' and came from the 1958 spring-summer collection designed by Yves Saint Laurent for the house of Dior. The style of the dress is influenced by the bell-shaped skirts fashionable in the 1860s. This influence can also been seen in the way it has been constructed. This dress has a tightly fitted boned corset and a bell-shaped skirt supported by a layered petticoat.The lightweight overdress is made of a double layer of spotted black tulle. It is studded with sparkling black bugle beads which are arranged in festoons caught at intervals by 42 bows of satin ribbon. The dress buttons down the back. (http://collections.vam.ac.uk/)
This dress was designed by Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008) for the House of Christian Dior in 1959. Saint Laurent was Dior's design assistant from 1955 and was only 21 when he succeeded Dior, who died in 1957.
Saint Laurent's youthful designs were important in securing the future of the house, and taking it into the next decade. He quickly established his own style and moved away from the billowing skirts and nipped-in waist favoured by Christian Dior. He went on to develop practical and comfortable garments, and would be one of the first couturiers to design trousers for women.
The Mondrian Collection, Cocktail dress, 1965
This dress was designed by Yves St Laurent (born 1936); the fabric was produced by Abraham and Bianchini Ferier. The dress was inspired by the abstract paintings of the Dutch De Stijl artist Piet Mondrian (1872-1944). Yves St Laurent designed a group of bold dresses based on intersecting black stripes and blocks of primary colours. It became known as the Mondrian Collection and was featured on the front of French Vogue in September 1965 and in many other fashion magazines. The designs were immediately taken up by mass manufacturers who made cheap copies.
This dress forms part of the Cecil Beaton Collection. With great energy and determination Sir Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) contacted designers and the well-dressed elite of Europe and America to create this lasting monument to the art of dress. The collection was exhibited in 1971, accompanied by a catalogue that detailed its enormous range.
Musique de Nuit; La Ligne Aimant, Evening dress, 1956-57
This dress was designed by Christian Dior for his autumn/winter 1956-7 collection, called La Ligne Aimant (the ‘Magnet line’). It was called Musique de Nuit (‘Night Music’) by Dior, who gave individual names to all his designs.
It was donated to the V&A by Baronne Martine de Courcel, wife of the French Ambassador to London (1962-65). The wives of diplomats played a very important role in promoting couture across the world. They were photographed at high-society events and interviewed for newspaper articles. Often, they would be given dresses by the couturiers, who benefited from the publicity.
This dress was depicted in a photograph taken by Richard Avedon for American Harper’s Bazaar, October 1956. The image shown here displays the dress in a pose reminiscent of that photograph, created for the 2007 V&A exhibition The Golden Age of Couture: Paris and London 1947-1957.
Evening dress, ca. 1985
This evening dress is in black velvet edged with black satin with two pastel green grosgrain bows. It was designed by Yves Saint Laurent in Paris about 1985.
Evening dress, 1960
The house of Dior was instrumental in the resurgence of Parisian haute couture after the Second World War. When Christian Dior died in 1957, his former assistant Yves Saint Laurent took over, until striking out on his own in 1961. As this evening dress illustrates, in Saint Laurent’s short time at the helm, he furthered Dior’s reputation for harmonious proportions and exquisite fabrics.
Saint Laurent designed this evening dress in crisp flowered silk organza. It features a mid-length sheath skirt with bubble-hemmed overskirt which, while full length in back, swoops up to above-knee in front, revealing the underskirt. An asymmetrical bow at the waist completes the look.
Evening dress, Autumn/Winter 1967
Black and grey evening dress of black cigaline with grey-to-black graduated sequin embroidery, and ostrich feathers. The simple shape is heavily embroidered with three dimensional embroidery which incorporates pearlised and textured silver sequins, diamantés, crystal beads, silver gilt threads, leaf-shaped plastic paillettes and a hem of ostrich feathers. The latter are painstakingly sewn down in nine horizontal rows, each one inch apart. The dress fastens with a zip at the left side and hooks and eyes on the left shoulder.
Ensemble, spring/summer 1989
Evening dress, spring/summer 1989
Evening ensemble, fall/winter 1983–84
Evening dress, fall/winter 1982–83
Evening ensemble, fall/winter 1976–77
Cocktail ensemble, ca. 1967
Afternoon dress, 1968
"Refrain", spring/summer 1958
After the death of Christian Dior in 1957, Yves Saint Laurent became the chief designer at Dior and faced the challenge of both honoring and updating the signature look of the house. Iconic designs like this from his first collection, illustrate how successfully Saint Laurent met the challenge. The full skirt and self bow marking the waist recall the designs of Dior from the early 1950s, however, the sacque-back treatment brings the dress more than up-to-the-moment. It heralds the a-line silhouette of the 1960s. Saint Laurent's skill is evident in the way that the dress looks as if it is loose and free-flowing, belying the full rigid understructure that makes the design possible.
Cape, fall/winter 1983–84
Dress, ca. 1965
Yves Saint Laurent's collections took inspiration from sources as varied as de Stijl paintings and the Ballet Russes. This dress is a nod both to both to the design of Cristobal Balenciaga (1895-1972) and Spanish flamenco costumes, with its ruffles, pompom trimming and polka dots. Widely spaced black and white dots like these were a signature pattern in Saint Laurent's work. Here the red and black combination gives the dress added interest and the whimsical pairing of the pattern with a baby-doll silhouette makes for a lively and festive combination.
Evening dress, spring/summer 1960
Ensemble, spring/summer 1964
Ensemble, fall/winter 1976–77
Saint Laurent was in the military for 20 days before the stress of hazing by fellow soldiers caused his check-in at a military hospital, where he received news that he had been fired by Dior. This merely added fuel to the fire, and he ended up in Val-de-Grâce, a French military hospital, where he was given large doses of sedatives and other psychoactive drugs and subjected to electroshock therapy. Saint Laurent himself traced the history of both his mental problems and his drug addictions to this time in hospital.
After his release from the hospital in November 1960, Saint Laurent sued Dior for breach of contract and won. After a period of convalescence, he and his partner since 1958, industrialist Pierre Bergé, started their own fashion house with funds from Atlanta millionaire J. Mack Robinson. The couple split romantically in 1976 but remained business partners.
In 1983, Saint Laurent became the first living fashion designer to be honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a solo exhibition. In 2001, he was awarded the rank of Commander of the Légion d'Honneur by French president Jacques Chirac. He retired in 2002 and became increasingly reclusive, living at his homes in Normandy and Morocco with his pet French Bulldog Moujik.
He also created a foundation with Bergé in Paris to trace the history of the house of YSL, complete with 15,000 objects and 5,000 pieces of clothing.
A favorite among his female clientele, Saint Laurent had numerous muses that inspired his work. Chief among these was Mounia-his oft used "bride" and 'Porgy and Bess' thematic Couture-garment model and frequent YSL cover-model in Women's Wear Daily and French Vogue, Somali supermodel Iman, whom he once described as his "dream woman." Other muses included 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; French actress Catherine Deneuve; Nicole Dorier, a YSL top model in 1978–83, who became one of his assistants in organizing his runway shows and, later, the "memory" of his house when it became a museum; Guinean-born Senegalese supermodel Katoucha Niane; Togolese-born supermodel Rebecca Ayoko; supermodel Laetitia Casta, who was the bride in his shows in 1997–2002.
In 2007, he was awarded the rank of Grand officier de la Légion d'honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
He died June 1, 2008 of brain cancer at his residence in Paris. According to The New York Times, a few days before he died, Saint Laurent and Bergé were joined in a same-sex civil union known as a Pacte civil de solidarité (PACS) in France. He was survived by his mother and sisters; his father had died in 1988.
He was given a Catholic funeral at St. Roch Catholic Church in Paris. Saint Laurent's body was cremated and his ashes scattered in Marrakech, Morocco, in the Majorelle Garden, a residence and botanical garden that he owned with Bergé since 1980 and often visited to find inspiration and refuge. Bergé said at the funeral service: “But I also know that I will never forget what I owe you and that one day I will join you under the Moroccan palms” (translated from French). The funeral attendants included Empress Farah Pahlavi, Madame Chirac, and President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni. Forbes rated Saint Laurent the top-earning dead celebrity in 2009.
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
Amazon: Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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