YSL: Pursuit of Beauty

Yves Saint Laurent, son of an insurance company manager, began his career in fashion when he left home at seventeen to work for Christian Dior. His talent for innovation did not go unnoticed at the fashion house and just four years later he was promoted to Head of Haute Couture. Laurent’s greatest belief was that beauty was a necessary luxury for all humankind. Through the medium of artistic fashion design he had found a way to promote his ideal. Perhaps, Yves Saint Laurent would have continued to work under the name of Christian Dior had it not been for an event that changed his life.

In 1960, during the Algerian War, he was conscripted into the French army. His desire for art and beauty had no place in such a world of violence and death. Exposed to this brutish reality, he suffered a nervous breakdown and, just twenty days after his conscription, he was admitted to a psychiatric ward.

In the light of his post-army suffering, he was released from Dior, and in 1961 he created one of the 20th Century’s most innovative fashion labels, YSL.