Yves Saint Laurent and business partner Pierre Berge are going out with a bang, blaming tasteless fashion magazines, a relentless marketing machine that’s devoid of creativity and a designer community that disrespects women for driving the two into retirement.
“Yves thinks people today are working in terms of marketing more than in terms of creation,” Berge said in an interview with WWD. “The world of fashion today is foreign to Yves. He doesn’t like it, doesn’t recognize it and doesn’t want to live in it. It was one reason, among others, why he has decided to give it up.
“Today, the situation is very complicated,” he continued, “because of the lack of creativity, the lack of fashion editors, the lack of grand couturiers and, for [Yves], it is impossible to continue under those circumstances.”
Saint Laurent, meanwhile, is featured in a question-and-answer piece in this week’s Paris Match, which hit newsstands Thursday. Asked if he is quitting fashion after his Jan. 22 retrospective show in Paris because of fatigue, he replied: “Fighting for elegance and beauty has made me suffer a lot+.The new world of fashion has become nothing but ‘styling,’ which is foreign to me. Elegance and beauty have been banished.”
At the press conference Monday to announce his decision, Saint Laurent, as reported, accused many designers today of creating “fantasies” to “satisfy their own egos” and generate publicity, rather than serving and empowering women.
Berge elaborated to WWD: “For Yves, the big problem today is the division between elegant women and fashion and also between the fashion magazines. For him, fashion magazines today respect neither the designers nor the women. They love sensationalism, they love photography and plus, many of the editors in fashion magazines have no taste.”
Berge said that was the reason Saint Laurent chose to thank only journalists at his press conference. His brief list included Diana Vreeland, Carmel Snow, John Fairchild, Nancy White, Eugenia Sheppard and Edmonde Charles-Roux, all of whom are retired or deceased.
Saint Laurent is said to pay scant attention to fashion magazines, which Berge confirmed. “When he opened by chance a magazine one day, you know what happened?” he said. “He closed it. I think it’s a good opinion. He’s right.”
The Paris Match article, which consists mostly of photographs, covers 18 pages. But in it, Saint Laurent elaborates slightly on his future plans.
Asked what he might do once the couture house is wound down later this year, Saint Laurent said he’d like to travel, to “discover Egypt and India.” He also said he might even go back to art school to perfect his drawing.
“I have a lot to learn about drawing, especially perspectives,” he said. “There are certain things I have trouble with, especially drawing people in an environment or decor. As in every art, drawing has its rules and I’d like to learn more to go further.”
The famously reclusive and tortured designer also reveals that he’s finally at peace with himself.
“People have said that I am timid, very reclusive, even sickly timid. And it was true. But I’ve changed,” he said. “I’m 65 years old and it’s only now that I feel most at ease.”
Unfortunately, fashion did not give him any security or confidence. “It’s war,” he said. “One is never sure of oneself in this metier. One is always learning new things. One must always go further.”
And while he may be glad to exit a now-alien fashion business, he confessed he’ll miss the daily grind at the couture house.
“I feel like a dove that has been stabbed,” Saint Laurent told Paris Match. “I will never again find the love that has surrounded me in this house over the last 40 years+.This house was built on love. That’s what I will miss. But at least I have until July.”