The name Yves Saint Laurent, along with the YSL acronym, is a familiar brand in the world of fashion and perfume, but it is also the name of the man who founded this house in 1961, the late Yves Saint Laurent. Though today it is owned by Kering, the brand known as Yves Saint Laurent began with one designer and his unique vision.
In 1961, the young Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge founded what would become one of the world"s most recognized and famous fashion houses. The trends of the time did not heavily influence the pair, though they did dress women in a way that was reflective of the current culture. Slender pants, tailored jacket, and luxury fabrics such as velvet or silk dominated some of their first styles. However, the tailoring of their early designs did remain a hallmark of their future lines.
The design team looked back to styles of the 1920-1940s for many of their collections, and won a huge following for their choices. The brand was among the first to give similar lines to both genders, and Yves Saint Laurent was first recognized for creating tuxedo styles for women.
The brand was soon a favorite of the elite and famous, and it continued to be a very popular choice through the 1990s. During that time the firm also launched a line of cosmetics and perfumes that were remarkably successful as well. However, these were sold to L"Oreal Paris during the 1990s and are now no longer a part of the company.
A Period of Decline and then Rebirth
During the 1990s it looked as if the Yves Saint Laurent brand was on a permanent decline. Profits were down, and the label did not maintain its former prestige. It was sold to a large corporation that hired another designer to handle the ready to wear work, but left the original partners in charge of the overall brand image.
This led to the hiring of a new art director and a re-launch of some former lines. The famous Gucci design house then took an interest and purchased the firm in 1999. They asked Yves Saint Laurent to handle all of the haute couture work, but again brought in a prestige designer (Tom Ford) to do the ready-to-wear lines.
In 2002, Yves Saint Laurent retired from fashion and this left the company in need of a design leader. Eventually, this led to the return of a previous creative director following yet another sale - to the current parent firm, Kering.
Yves Saint Laurent Now
Today, the firm has re-established itself and its brand as an iconic and fashionable one. New divisions have been created with Saint Laurent as the ready to wear label, YSL for the accessories and shoes, and the couture house remains Yves Saint Laurent in Paris.
The company also made the savvy decision to open boutiques in different parts of the world including New York, San Francisco, Paris, Beverly Hills, Chicago, and more. The firm also has a very strong international presence through these exclusive shops and currently maintains operations in Spain, Germany, Poland, Italy, Russia, Morocco, the Middle East, Asia, and China.
The brand retains its upscale reputation too and is sold through exclusive arrangements with some of the world"s most prestigious department stores.
A visit to the firm"s official website allows shoppers to explore the:
Ready to Wear lines
Mens Collections - Includes Toile Monogram
The company also has a Music Project that allows website visitors to enjoy songs and videos from Architects of Rock and Blues, Christopher Owens, Courtney Love, Curtis Harding, Daft Punk, Joe Dallesandro, Kim Gordon, Marianne Faithfull, and Marilyn Manson.
Though Yves Saint Laurent was a very unique person, the brand that takes his name is a good reflection of his uniqueness. It is a lifestyle as much as a fashion statement, and it continues to grow and reflect the many ways that fashion spills over into music, art, and everyday life.
Though still a luxury brand, it speaks to many different types of people around the world and goes beyond borders to translate into innovative style with a recognizable flair.
YSL. Saint Laurent Collections. YSL.com. 2014. http://www.ysl.com/corporate/us/saint-laurent-paris/