“Fashions Fade, Style is Eternal” – Yves Saint Laurent


From a very young age it was obvious to those who knew Yves Saint Laurent that he was destined to be designing fashion. His passion, talent, and delicate nature were all intuitive of him having a very long and successful career in the industry. Being taught the tricks of the trade by one of the greatest couturiers ever, Saint Laurent certainly had a brilliant foundation to carve out his own style and fashion empire, which is still a popular brand in today’s marketplace. The 1960’s would not have been what it was had it not been for the Avant Garde style and ingenuity of Yves Saint Laurent.

Born in August in 1936, Saint Laurent grew up in with his parents and 2 sisters in Oran, Algeria, and spent much of his childhood creating paper dolls and costumes for him and his sisters to play with. He had a natural talent for sketching which was embraced and encouraged by his family. Saint Laurent was not popular in school and often bullied because of his feminine nature. With the love and support from his family however, Saint Laurent chased his dreams of Paris and couture fashion, and at only 17 was fortunate enough to meet the editor of French Vogue, Michael de Brunhoff, who was instantly struck by the raw talent displayed in Saint Laurent’s sketches. With this encouragement also, Saint Laurent enrolled at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, in Paris, and was soon being noticed by many designers of the time. Through de Brunhoff, Saint Laurent had possibly the most important meeting of his life, being introduced to Christian Dior, where he gained an apprenticeship at the House of Dior once he had completed his studies.


To begin with Saint Laurent’s duties were restricted by Dior, possibly as a teaching method. So it came as a shock when only 2 years later after Dior’s primitive death, that Saint Laurent was appointed the new head designer. He was only 21! With the financial success of the brand weighing heavily on his shoulders, Saint Laurent took the reins and did not disappoint. In his first collection for the House of Dior in 1957, the straight line of his creations, a softer version of Dior’s New Look, catapulted him to international stardom with what would later be known as the trapeze dress. His next few collections however, did not receive the same amount of acclaim, as Saint Laurent tried to introduce hobble skirts and beatnik fashions.

Then in 1960, Saint Laurent had to return to Algeria where he had been conscription to fight for the country’s independence. After only 20 days in the military, Saint Laurent ended up in hospital sighted with not being able to cope with the pressures of war. Only 2 months after he left, Saint Laurent returned to Paris subsequently being discharged, but discovered his position at Dior was no longer there. He had been replaced, and after successfully suing the House of Dior, found himself with enough financial backing to open his own couture house. Along with Pierre Berge his life partner, the two worked side by side and established the YSL brand. It sat at the top of the fashion empire for the next two decades, with styles such as the Pea Coat, Jumpsuit, Le Smoking Jacket, and the boyish Beatnik fashions, being some of YSL’s most notable creations.


One woman who became Saint Laurent’s biggest supported was Catherine Deneuve, who wore many YSL ensembles over the years. Saint Laurent drew much of his inspiration from artists, including Matisse, Picasso and Mondrian. Many of his collections displayed embroidery based on the colours and paintings of these artists. Saint Laurent was the first French couturier to come out with a full prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) line and in 1967 opened his first off the peg store in Paris’s 6th arrondissment. His first customer was Catherine Deneuve. The YSL brand now encompasses clothing, jewellery, makeup, luggage and fragrance. It’s a global brand with the initials of the great Yves Saint Laurent being instantly recognisable the world over.

The pressure of completing two couture lines and two ready-to-wears lines every year soon took its toll on Saint Laurent, and he frequently turned to drugs and alcohol to try and get through it. At some shows, he could barely walk down the runway and had to be supported by his models. Then in 1987, after a disastrous ready-to-wear collection, he turned the line over to his assistants. The line remained ever popular with his fans.

Designer Style

In later life, Saint Laurent was honoured by the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a solo exhibition. Finally in 2002, Saint Laurent retired after 30 years creating. He became a recluse after this, spending his time between his homes in Normandy and Morocco with his French bulldog and partner Pierre Berge. Saint Laurent died on 1 June 2008, of brain cancer at his residence in Paris. It was reported that a few days before his death, Saint Laurent and Berge were married in a civil ceremony. He was given a catholic funeral in Paris before his ashes were returned to his home in Morocco where they were scattered amongst the garden in which Saint Laurent had often gone to, to find inspiration and solace through-out his career.

Yves Saint Laurent was a man of great talent. Even though he often lived a somewhat troubled life, the legacy left behind is one that shall never be forgotten. Tom Ford became the artistic director of YSL for a few years after Saint Laurent’s departure, and the brand lives on today through other talents such as Hedi Slimane and Anthony Vaccarello. It is a brand that I shall always think of first when it comes to Safari Suits, Power Dressing and the ever famous Shift Dress that can never be forgotten because of Saint Laurent’s use of colour blocking.

Love Always, Anastacia Rose xx


“All a woman needs to be chic is a raincoat, two suits, a pair of trousers and a cashmere sweater” – Hubert de Givenchy


It will come as no surprise to some that Hubert de Givenchy is one of my most loved designers. The man and his fashion house and synonymous with creating Audrey Hepburn’s style of the 1950’s. And it is my all-time love for Audrey that bought me to discover and admire the work of Givenchy. He was a man of tall stature, and over a 40 year career in fashion, he build his name into a recognisable brand that reflected his towering height over his opponents.

Hubert de Givenchy is another product of France, being born in Beauvais in 1927. He and his brother enjoyed a mostly affluent lifestyle, being born into an aristocratic family. The boys were raised by their mother and grandmother after their father’s untimely passing in 1930. Givenchy knew from a young age that he had a love for design and the arts, and attended an arts school after briefly considering a career in law. At the tender young age of only 17, he began an apprenticeship with one of the greats, Jacques Fath, and built on his natural talents as a designer. After working with Fath, Givenchy moved on to work alongside some of the other famous names of the time, including Robert Piguet, Lucien Lelong and Elsa Schiaparelli. Then on the 2nd February, 1952, on the rue Alfred de Vigny, Givenchy opened his first couture house.


Givenchy was one of the first design houses of the 1950’s to produce a ready-to-wear collection. And it was an enormous success. Vogue magazine and The New York Times sang his praises claiming “A star is born”, and rating Givenchy as one of the “most newsworthy happenings this spring”. His collection included floaty skirts and puffy blouses all made from raw cotton, and the most iconic piece of this collection was the Bettina Blouse made of white cotton, and named after one of Givenchy’s muse Bettina Grazia. The applause at the conclusion of this debut was said to be loud, long and unqualified. First day sales totalled seven million francs!

Givenchy created many of the classic 1950’s silhouettes which I am a fan on today, and put emphasis on creating separate skirts and tops which appealed to the younger market. His initial collections displayed full skirts, nipped in waists, voluminous sleeves, and were accessorised with gloves, belts and ‘garbo’ hats. It was reported that in the early days, Givenchy only had a small premise in which to create his magic, and was often found ironing garments in the bathroom moments before they appeared on the runway. Hollywood soon noticed this young designer, and came calling for Givenchy to create costumes for some of the iconic films of the 1950’s and 1960’s. And it was here that Hubert de Givenchy meet Audrey Hepburn, and a lifelong friendship and adoration for each other began.


The first film in which Givenchy dressed Hepburn was Sabrina, alongside famed costume designer Edith Head. He then went on to style her wardrobe both on and off the screen, and Hepburn became the new ambassador for the House of Givenchy. Possibly the most famous image of Audrey Hepburn wearing a Givenchy creation is the little black dress in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Givenchy also dressed Hepburn in some of her other famous films of the era including Funny Face, How to Steal a Million, and Paris when it Sizzles. Their relationship remained solid over Givenchy’s career, and at his exhibition celebration 40 years in the business in 1991, it was naturally Hepburn who inaugurated it. Other famous women of the time who proudly wore Givenchy include Jaquelin Kennedy, Lauren Bacall and the Duchess of Windsor, for whom he made an outfit for to wear to her husband’s funeral in only 48 hours. In 1957, Givenchy’s relationship with his new muse Hepburn was so strong, that he developed a perfume for her sole use. L`Interdit later became available to the public, along with many other fragrances that the House of Givenchy developed.

It should also be mentioned the influence that another great designer had on Givenchy. Balenciaga formed a close bond with Givenchy, and by 1963 they were both talked about in the same breath. It is said that through this friendship, Givenchy quest for perfection was formed, and he wore his mentors white coat at the end of each show. At one point in time, Balenciaga and Givenchy had their fashion houses located opposite each other on the same street in Paris.


The Givenchy label has grown significantly over the decades, and now not only encompasses women’s fashion, but also menswear, shoes, jewelry, ties, tableware, upholstery and kimonos. A significant milestone for Givenchy came in 1988 when after 36 years at the helm, Hubert de Givenchy sold his empire to LVMH. He stayed on for a few more years, finally winding down and retiring in 1995. Givenchy was succeeded by John Galliano, followed closely by Alexander McQueen in 1996. Also having been in charge and taking the title of artistic director have been Julien MacDonald, Riccardo Tisci and currently Clare Waight Keller.

As Hubert de Givenchy now sits back and enjoys his retirement, I’m sure he must be immensely proud and empowered by his contributions to the history of fashion. Every time I watch one of my favourite Audrey Hepburn films, I simply marvel at his ingenuity and flair for style that made the 1950’s such a grand decade in couture. Be it that little black dress, the floral printed full skirt or those chic and voluptuous sleeves, Givenchy has certainly left an everlasting mark on the world of fashion.

Love Always, Anastacia Rose xx