PARIS — For those who expect venom every time Pierre Bergé speaks his mind, his new book, “Time Goes On, I Remain,” may disappoint.

But those curious about the people Yves Saint Laurent’s feisty partner surrounded himself with will discover a telling and thoughtful book. It hit French bookstores last week, although plans for an English translation have yet to be firmed up.

This story first appeared in the January 24, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“True, it’s not mean at all,” Bergé said in an interview in his office at 5 Avenue Marceau. “It wasn’t the point. I loved all of the people in this book. This book is a succession of portraits of people I’ve known and that I’ve admired greatly. They all influenced me in some respect over my life.”

The list reads like a who’s who of the last 50 years, including artists Jean Cocteau and Andy Warhol; the late French president François Mitterrand, and legendary socialite Marie-Laure de Noailles. Figures from fashion are limited to designers Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, and former American Vogue editor Diana Vreeland.

“Some people may expect more fashion in the book,” admitted Bergé, “but I’ve only put people in that I admired. In fashion, that list is short.”

Okay, so he’s mean by omission. Meanwhile, the chapters on each person give brief biographical details as well as the author’s views on what made these people tick.

“In many ways, the book is as much about me as it is about these people,” Bergé mused, before going on to describe himself à la one of the book’s chapters: “Pierre Bergé was a young man who harbored great ambitions. He wasn’t driven by money. His only ambition was to burn near the fire of creation.”

Bergé conceded that he has always been attracted to tortured and creative types, from artist Bernard Buffet, who drank heavily, to Saint Laurent, whose portrait is conspicuously absent — but to whom the book is dedicated.

“I could never write a portrait of Yves Saint Laurent,” said Bergé. “I would have to dig into so many corners. Yves Saint Laurent is a very complicated man…and there would have to be investigations into drugs, drink and sex… that’s not a job for me.”

He continued, “Now that I’ve written the book, I don’t know if it’s me who is attracted to tortured artists, or the tortured artists that are attracted to me. Maybe they find stability in me. In any case, I love people that have doubts and are unafraid of uncertainties. I like fragile people. It’s inevitable that artists are disturbed by the idea of creation.”

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