It was a like stepping back into the 70's in the middle of Paris in 2014. I was standing inside Yves Saint Laurent's studio where the great couturier had sketched and created his ideas, gave orders to his seamstresses and chose his models between 1974 and 2002. Although the fashion house had been created in 1962 it wasn't until 12 years later that they moved into this townhouse of the Second Empire period which today houses the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation.
Our guide, Madame Clementine, was full of enticing anecdotes while presenting several original sketches on which we were able to read the annotations of Mr. Saint Laurent destined for the workshop. Emblematic haute couture prototypes were unveiled for us. I dare believe I remember the sequin embroidered jacket in honour of Van Gogh's Irises, that cost as much as a small apartment in Paris at the time.
Thanks to the rich library before the bibles of the YSL collection, and the explanation of our private guide we were able understand the functioning of Pierre Berger and YSL fashion house. It was Mr Berger's idea - right from the start of his collaboration with M. Saint Laurent - to keep the sketches and material samples and its thanks to him that the Foundation Yves Saint Laurent continues to thrive.
The beginning of YSL's career, however, is thanks to M.Christian Dior who discovered him as a young and talented teenager. Yves Saint Laurent became his assistant for three years and later became head designer for a further three years after M. Dior passed away.
Until this day, if you look carefully at YSL work desk you will find a dressmakers wood meter and a walking stick. No, they were not his own but belonged to Monsieur Christian Dior, his grand maître, a man who was identified with good taste, the art of living and refined culture that epitomises Paris to the outside world.