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Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent (born August 1, 1936 in Oran, Algeria) is a French fashion designer.

Early career

Born to insurance-company manager Charles Saint-Laurent and his socialite wife, Lucienne Mathieu, members of a family from Alsace-Lorraine that settled in North Africa during the Franco-Prussian War, Saint Laurent left home at the age of 17 to work for the designer Christian Dior. Following the death of Dior in 1957, Saint-Laurent at the age of 21 was put in charge of effort of saving the Dior house from financial ruin. Saint-Laurent's designs together, with his lover Pierre Berg
's financial acumen, helped save the firm. The couple split romantically in 1976 but remained business partners.

Military service

Shortly after this success he was conscripted to serve in the French army during the Algerian war of independence. After 20 days the stress of being hazed by fellow soldiers led the fragile Saint Laurent to be institutionalized in a French mental hospital, where he underwent psychiatric treatment, including electroshock therapy, for a nervous breakdown.

The House of Yves Saint-Laurent

In the wake of his nervous breakdown, Saint Laurent was released from Dior and started his own label together with Pierre Berg 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. 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, and Catherine Deneuve, the iconic french actress.

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.

The pret-a-porter line is still being produced under the direction of Stefano Pilati after Tom Ford retired in 2004.

Learn more at the YSL web site.

The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yves_Saint_Laurent  1/8/06

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