Recommended: YSL double docs

A two-documentary DVD on Yves St. Laurent ("Yves St. Laurent: His Life and Times" and "5 Avenue Marceau", about the production of his 2001 couture show), directed by David Teboul in 2008, will likely fascinate you.

YSL 2008 (his last season)
In the first film, we follow a boy genius in his history-making rapid rise, his fragile middle period, his late-life hard-earned reflections.

Sometimes his pronouncements are questionable: he avers that he wants to make "democratic" clothes for all women. (But it was always Pierre Bergé who ran the business, letting his young genius dream and design, and Bergé says no such thing– the richer the client, the better.)

YSL reveals some of his design notions: He dressed women by first considering menswear, especially the confidence his suit gave a man. "You take a woman, she is not much, but you give her a dress with pockets, and she puts her hands in them, and she becomes confident, there she is!" he asserts. 

(Now just try to find a ready to wear dress with pockets!)

YSL Russian series, 1976

In "5 Avenue Marceau" you'll notice how relatively little the clothes have dated; a woman could wear the famous fur-trimmed Russian series or le smoking today. An extended scene with Catherine Deneuve being fitted an array of exquisite daywear evoked envy for more than her relationship with Marcello Mastrioanni.

YSL Exhibit, Petit Palais, 2010
Loulou de la Falaise Klossowski
St. Laurent liked his women either flouncily femmy or androgenous. I preferred the spare, nearly minimal ensembles of Loulou de la Falaise to the runway ruffles or the leather-bar toughness of Betty Catroux.

Often cited as his "muse", here you see de la Falaise working her tail off, leading an older YSL through the tortuous design and show cycle, part mother, part matador.

You won't approve of Project Runway's callow kids crying "Fabulous!" at sloppy, unfocused ensembles after watching this true couturier work with exquisite materials. In the 1990s, he mourned that certain embroideries he used decades ago had been lost: "the threads, the technique: gone". And what of today, when so much more is history?

Another recent doc, "L'Amour Fou" (dir. Pierre Thorreton) about Bergé's auction of the treasures they accumulated together, is not yet available on DVD.


Anonymous said…
I have watched this DVD and I agree these films are absolutely worth watching. In fact, reading your post makes me want to rent the DVD again! :)
Susan B said…
Thank you, Duchesse. I'm going to look for these as I loved YSL's designs and aesthetic.
La Loca said…
I'll definitely look for this--interesting comment re: the project runway kids. I worry that there's a whole generation who will have no experience with craftsmanship.
Pearl said…
Saw the YSL exhibit at Petit Palais--fabulous! One of the best curated exhibits I had ever seen, specifically for fashion but in general as well.
Duchesse said…
Mrs. M.: I was suprised at how much of himself St. Laurent actually revealed and could easily watch again.

Une femme: Not sure if on Netflix (I don't use it) but try.

Slowest: Anyone who knows even the basics of sewing and tailoring will be impressed, especially by "les petites mains".

Pearl: Luck- taht's one I'd love to see. there's a big Gaultier exhibition in Montreal now.
Unknown said…
Very interesting. Will definitely check this out. Have just finished "simple isn't easy". A good little book. Thanks for the recommendation.
emma said…
You might want to see Valentino the Last Emperor for a behind the scenes look at his process. And the DRESSES! The hand beading & stitching, & the amazing women who created them from a loose sketch and V. draping a length of fabric on the model.
I've already reserved these 2 docs at my local library, thanks!
sisty said…
I liked 5 Ave. Marceau very much. I was struck by how quiet and patient everyone was through it all, and how well they listened to each other, despite the obvious tension.
Susan Tiner said…
Thank you Duchesse, I'll pop this one in the netflix queue (it is available).

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