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The Pierre-Berge-Saint Laurent Foundation announced the death of Algerian-born Yves (Henri Donat Mathieu) Saint Laurent, world-renowned fashion designer and YSL Beauté’s namesake, due to prolonged illness. Laurent, who was born on Aug. 1, 1936, died at age 71 in his hometown, Paris, France, on Sunday, June 1, 2008.
In the 1950s, Laurent inspired the high fashion world, following the footsteps of his mentor, Christian Dior, whom he served as an assistant until Dior’s unexpected death in 1957. After Dior’s passing, the House of Dior named Laurent its head designer, spurring the young artist’s fantastical view of fashion. Haute couture enthusiasts welcomed Laurent’s first collection at age 21, based on the trapeze. In 1962, the Yves Saint Laurent company was founded in Paris. Through couture peacoats and men’s tuxedo “smoking” jackets for women to casual sportswear, fragrances, makeup and skin care, Laurent helped bring Parisian style to the forefront of the industry, attracting celebrities like Catherine Deneuve and Lauren Bacall. Laurent stirred controversy in 1971 when he appeared nude in an advertisement for YSL, his men’s cologne. However, his revolutionary push toward women wearing pants became one of his most noted contributions to fashion.
In 2000, the Gucci Group (owned by French conglomerate PPR) acquired Laurent’s ready-to-wear and fragrance brands, and two years later, Laurent retired. In January 2008, L’Oréal entered into a strategic agreement with PPR for long-term exclusive worldwide license to use the Yves Saint Laurent brand name. However, the YSL remains the property of PPR.