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I have just watched Yves Saint Laurent and found it to be a visually sumptuous film which totally captures the dying days of the elite formal couture houses before bursting into the hedonism of modern global fashion brands. An excellent companion piece to L'Amour Fou (2010), giving an insight into the tempestuous but private relationship between YSL and Pierre Bergé through the pitch perfect acting of Pierre Niney (Yves) and Guillaume Gallienne (Pierre).
The film charts YSL's career from his early years at Dior in the late 1950s through to his iconic Ballet Russes collection of 1976. The world of the late 1950s is perfectly captured with elegant Dior designs, stylish models and a jazz score that matched the chic Parisian apartments the characters inhabit.
In one such apartment Yves meets Pierre Bergé, the man he will spend the rest of his life with both privately and professionally. For Pierre is the man who orchestrates the creation of YSL as a couture house. He gives Yves the confidence to "create on my own terms" and show the world his own particular view of feminine beauty and elegance.
Their relationship mirrors Giancarlo Giammetti and Valentino Garavani who together also created an iconic fashion house and sustained a personal relationship for over 50 years. Their story too is wonderfully and humorously captured in the documentary The Last Emperor (2008). However, one is left with a sense that Giancarlo and Valentino had a much more stable relationship to that of Yves and Pierre. The YSL movie captures during the 1960/70s Yves' erratic excesses with drugs and sex and Pierre's jealousy and need for control.
But this expose of their difficult relationship in no way detracts from the exquisite design throughout the movie. From the elegant, well documented interiors of Yves and Pierre's Parisian apartments, to the bohemian Moroccan lifestyle they enjoyed with the likes of Loulou de la Falaise and Karl Lagerfeld.
This film was a joy to watch with a standout performance by Pierre Niney, whose voice and mannerisms made Yves live once again.
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