Since the news broke this weekend of Yves Saint Laurent’s passing, the fashion industry has collectively mourned one of its greatest icons and pioneers. Tom Ford, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Proenza Schouler were among the designers and journalists who shared the memories of Saint Laurent with us.
Tom Ford: “Yves was the most influential designer working in the sixties and seventies, which were the years that I was growing up and forming my own taste and sensibilities, so he had a tremendous effect on my visual world. At that time he was really the designer driving the look of fashion, and his style still resonates today. Yves not only had great intuition about fashion but was also a great business man. He and Pierre pioneered the structure of the contemporary fashion house when they introduced ready-to-wear and licensed products. Contrary to the image that Yves created about himself, I always found him to be very quick when it came to business and to have a kind of intuitive compass that always led him in the right direction. As a person Yves could also be very warm and quite adorable when he wanted to be. I had enormous respect for him, and I’m sad that he is no longer in our world.”
Diane Von Furstenberg: “Yves Saint Laurent was the most important designer of the twentieth century. He transformed the way women looked and felt. He was an artist, a visionary who created the modern woman. As a woman he made me feel the way I wanted to feel — powerful and feminine. As a designer he will always be a source of inspiration. As a friend I will miss his wit and mischief!!”
Oscar de la Renta: “Yves Saint Laurent marked a period of fashion in an extraordinary and exciting way. He had an incredible eye for color, an eye for the exotic. For a very long period of time, he was the king of fashion. Everyone wanted to be Yves Saint Laurent. He was such an unbelievably gifted man. He was a great innovator and some of his trends, like the smoking suit, are as influential today as when he first designed them. He just had an extraordinary eye for fantasy and every woman wanted to be a part of that world.”
Anna Sui: “He introduced us to so much twentieth-century fashion terminology (like the ‘baby doll,’ ‘le smoking,’ the ‘trapeze,’ and the ‘rich peasant look’) that have become part of the vocabulary of style.”
Michael Kors: “Saint Laurent has always been one of my greatest fashion mentors. From ‘Peasants to Pantsuits’ to ‘Safari to Nautica,’ Yves Saint Laurent went there first. Every woman in the world, sometimes without even knowing it, has something in her closet inspired by Yves Saint Laurent. His genius is irreplaceable.”
Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler: “Yves Saint Laurent’s passing is incredibly saddening to us. His courage and groundbreaking decision to look at the streets and translate what he saw for the more rarefied world he was a part of is something that we always think about. His work and his life serve as not only an inspiration but an example of what it means to call yourself a designer. He set the standard by which we all are judged.”
Francisco Costa, of Calvin Klein: “Mr. Saint Laurent revolutionized modern fashion with his understanding of youth, sophistication, and relevance. His legacy will always be remembered.”
Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte: “Yves Saint Laurent is modern fashion. He defined and created contemporary style, and because of this, he will always remain with all of us. His legacy will live on.”
Harriett Mays Powell, New York Fashion Director: “I remember seeing his couture show in the late eighties. It was perfection. I had chills down my spine. So breathtaking, I practically cried. He received a standing ovation, just flawless. The mastery of his ability to design clothes which few really have…”
Simon Doonan, of Barneys New York: “I have a permanent shrine to Yves in my house: a pair of couture croc thigh boots. His highwayman looks, his Cossacks, his lesbian tuxedos, his sexy safaris, his djellabas, his Spanish cigarette girls, his tartan flings. There is no end to his influence and fabulousness.”
Linda Fargo, Bergdorf Goodman’s SVP Women’s Fashion Director and Store Presentation: “Just to pronounce those three special words, ‘Yves Saint Laurent,’ is to feel something special pass through you, which you know is quintessentially rare, chic, and Parisienne. Yves’s rare combination of talent, reinvention, artistic angst, and blurred ideas of sexuality became a perfect storm for his times. Every new season I see the halo effect of his vision moving forward in other people’s work and in our freedoms of dress which we take for granted. I suspect that the ripple effect of his unique wave will never cease to touch us all.”
Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi, Preen: “What we absolutely loved about YSL designs was how he gave women an effortless strength and a timeless sensuality. He is, and always will be, an amazing inspiration.”
Manolo Blahnik: “Yves Saint Laurent gave another dimension to the word ‘couture.’ He revolutionized the way women and men dressed in the sixties and the seventies, and his influence is still tangible to this very day. Upon establishing his own label, he rebelled against the Old Guard and created clothes that appealed to the youth of the day — without compromising on his ultimate goal: perfection. At that time, all around the world, nobody would be seen without their Yves Saint Laurent — whether it was couture or ready-to-wear, and every time it was a master class in cut, precision, and volume. To me he was the best. No one will be able to replace him.”
Zac Posen: “Yves Saint Laurent was one of the great cultural commentators in history. For me, he goes into a very major category with Warhol, Duchamp, and Picasso. He was one of the few designers who had the ability to be part of changing the way people on the street dress and youth culture. He’s one of the greatest colorists and not only did he invent the idea of suiting for women — which is so historical — but he created what the modern dress looks like as well. He was a pure visionary and artist and because of that when one puts himself out there it creates a physical vulnerability. He’s a true artist; he didn’t believe in safety or trend. He lived his work, in a hard way and a very lyrical way.
Fashion is still working today in the formulas that he created, in what a collection looks like. He kept the excitement of fashion alive and then took it to a next level. He made it interesting as fashiontainment as well as making the best clothing.”