Saint Laurent (sahn loh-rahn) (previously known as Yves Saint Laurent or YSL) is a luxury fashion house founded by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé. The founder of the brand died in 2008. In 2012, PPR announced that Hedi Slimane replaced Stefano Pilati at the helm of the brand. On June 21, 2012, the line was rebranded as Saint Laurent.
Yves Saint Laurent was founded by designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé in 1961, and the current logos were designed in 1963 by A. M. Cassandre.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the firm popularized fashion trends such as the beatnik look, safari jackets for men and women, tight pants and tall, thigh-high boots, including the creation of arguably the most famous classic tuxedo suit for women in 1966, Le Smoking suit. Some of his most memorable collections include the Pop Art, Ballet Russes, Picasso and Chinese ones. He also started mainstreaming the idea of wearing silhouettes from the 1920s, '30s and '40s. He was the first, in 1966, to popularize ready-to-wear in an attempt to democratize fashion, with Rive Gauche and the boutique of the same name.
He was also the first designer to use black models in his catwalk shows. Among Saint Laurent's muses were Loulou de La Falaise, the daughter of a French marquis and an Anglo-Irish fashion model, Betty Catroux, the half-Brazilian daughter of an American diplomat and wife of a French decorator, Talitha Pol-Getty, who died of drug overdose in 1971, and Catherine Deneuve, the iconic French actress, and Hope Portocarrero, who as the First Lady of Nicaragua set the standard for Latin American fashion in the 1960s and 1970s. Ambassador to the couturier during the late 1970s and early 80s was London socialite millionairess Diane Vandelli (née Princess Romanovsky), making the brand ever more popular among the European jet-set and elite.
In 1993, the Saint Laurent fashion house was sold to the pharmaceuticals company Sanofi. In the 1998–1999 seasons, Alber Elbaz, currently of Lanvin, designed three ready-to-wear collections.
Pierre Bergé appointed Hedi Slimane as collections and art director in 1997, and they relaunched YSL Rive Gauche Homme. Hedi Slimane decided to leave the house two years later.
In 1999, Gucci bought the YSL brand and asked Tom Ford to design the ready-to-wear collection while Saint Laurent would design the haute couture collection. In 2002, dogged by years of poor health, drug abuse, depression, alcoholism, and criticisms of YSL designs, Saint Laurent closed the couture house of YSL. While the house no longer exists, the brand still survives through its parent company Gucci Group.
The prêt-à-porter line was produced under the direction of Stefano Pilati after Tom Ford left in 2004. His style was decidedly more French than the overtly sexy image that Tom Ford perpetuated.
In February 2012 it was announced that Hedi Slimane would return to the house and replace Pilati as the creative director.