The Unbelievable History of Yves Saint Laurent and the Brand’s Influence

There is a collection of designers available to us which bring home quite a bit of money. Ralph Lauren profited over $4 billion in 2013. Burberry brings in the equivalent every year. 

But there’s one brand that stands out to us across accessories, jewelry, cosmetics, and clothing. Let’s take a look at the unique history of Yves Saint Laurent and how it has set itself apart from other brands.

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Credit: Wikimedia

The History of Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent was 17 years old when he moved to Paris to study fashion design. French Vogue's Michel De Brunhott quickly noticed similarities of his work and style in Laurent. Consequently, he set up a meeting with Christian Dior, who immediately hired Saint Laurent. Once hired, he obtained décor and designing accessories and received more work over his upcoming years. Upon Christian Dior’s death in 1957, Saint Laurent became the chief designer at the young age of 21.

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Credit: Wikimedia

As Dior focused of jewelry pieces, Saint Laurent followed suit, but his later collections were not positively acclaimed. In 1960, Saint Laurent served in the French Army and was fired from Dior. One year later, he opened his own design house titled YSL. Upon its establishment, people credited him for being the first designer to create a line of clothing with popular designs and silhouettes. The brand quickly established the trapeze dress and a tuxedo for women (Le Smoking). They popularised the safari/beatnik look. In the early ‘70’s, YSL introduced colourful and bold jewelry pieces to their collection. People considered this a bold step beyond his ready-to-wear collections.

Substantial Growth

By 1980, the history of Yves Saint Laurent was known to all. During the 1998-1999 seasons, Alber Elbaz took over as the new designer, before Tom Ford replaced him in 1999. Saint Laurent continued designing the couture collection. However, in 2002, he’d suffered years of drug abuse, depression, alcoholism and poor health. He closed that side of his business. Heidi Slimane became the creative director in March 2012 who doubled the annual sales revenue to €707 million in 2014, from €353 million three years earlier.

Her success came down to focusing on the products and the message of the brand. Now, it appeals to a wider demographic than most other brands. Expanding on different areas in the business – such as cosmetics – has positively improved the brand’s success. In 2014, the leather goods and shoes represented 66 percent of the business. The ready-to-wear collections surged ahead by 23 percent from a few years ago. Development of leather goods with handbags and cult shoes also impacted the brand’s success immediately. 

The History of Yves Saint Laurent Makes It The Brand It Is Today

The brand continues to offer consumers value for money with classic investment pieces. For instance, their classic leather biker jacket won’t ever go out of style, but is competitively priced. Similarly, their new range of leather bags is more affordable than that of similar brands such as Givenchy and Louis Vuitton.

What are some of your favourite products from the YSL range? How has the history of Yves Saint Laurent impacted your fashion choices? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments to keep this conversation going.

Related Article: 7 YSL Bags Every Woman Needs and a Look in the Brand’s Story

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