Tue, Jun 03, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Famed French couturier Yves Saint Laurent dies

AP , PARIS

French designer Yves Saint Laurent is pictured at the end of a fashion show in Paris, France, on March 22, 1989.

PHOTO: AP

Legendary designer Yves Saint Laurent, who reworked the rules of fashion by putting women into elegant pantsuits that came to define how modern women dressed, has died, a longtime friend and associate said. He was 71.

Pierre Berge, Saint Laurent’s business partner for four decades, said he had died on Sunday evening at his Paris home following a long illness.

A towering figure of 20th century fashion, Saint Laurent was widely considered the last of a generation that included Christian Dior and Coco Chanel and made Paris the fashion capital of the world, with the Rive Gauche, or Left Bank, as its elegant headquarters.

In the fast-changing world of haute couture, Saint Laurent was hailed as the most influential and enduring designer of his time.

From the first YSL tuxedo and his trim pantsuits to see-through blouses, safari jackets and glamorous gowns, Saint Laurent created instant classics that remain stylish decades later.

“I am saddened by the loss of such a legendary talent,” designer Tommy Hilfiger said in a statement. “He was a creative genius who changed the world of fashion forever.”

“Chanel gave women freedom” and Saint Laurent “gave them power,” Berge said on France-Info radio. Saint Laurent was a “true creator,” going beyond the aesthetic to make a social statement, Berge said.

When Saint Laurent announced his retirement in 2002 at age 65 and the closure of the Paris-based haute couture house he had founded 40 years earlier, it was mourned in the fashion world as the end of an era. His ready-to-wear label, Rive Gauche, which was sold to Gucci in 1999, still has boutiques around the world.

“Mr Saint Laurent revolutionized modern fashion with his understanding of youth, sophistication and relevance. His legacy will always be remembered,” Calvin Klein designer Francisco Costa said.

Saint Laurent was born on Aug. 1, 1936, in Oran, Algeria.

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