Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Privilege of Suffering

They say that one must suffer to create great art. The fashion industry is no stranger to this theory, as many of the greatest fashion designers endured a great deal of trauma in their lifetimes, and through that they created some of the greatest works of wearable art that the world has seen. The fashion world has seen the untimely death of Christian Dior, the in-fighting of the Gucci clan, the murder of Gianni Versace, and the suicide of Alexander McQueen, but Yves Saint Laurent was the designer who suffered and lived to create a fashion legacy.

Yves Saint Laurent logo, designed by Adolphe Cassandre
image courtesy of Fashion Wiki

Sympathy is not an emotion I’m overly familiar with (I’m more of a fan of “get the fuck over it,” especially in regards to the rich & famous), but reading the YSL biography by Alice Rawsthorn gave me a glimpse into the life of a deeply troubled man who I had previously only thought of as a famous face. The book is a carefully written portrayal of a man who struggled with drug addiction, depression, and dependency, and brings to light themes that are prevalent in the current celebrity lifestyles.

An example of le smoking, photographed by Helmut Newton.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Yet though his struggles Yves can be seen to be one of the most inspirational people of his generation. He pulled through his issues to create some of the most stunning pieces of design work (I’m taking about his iconic le smoking and the rise of prêt-à-porter), became a symbol for the gay community, and shocked the world with innovative ad campaigns. Coco Chanel may have been the mother of French fashion, but Yves Saint Laurent is a designer with a human face. He is a designer with a story that needs to be told. And most importantly: he is a designer who can be learned from. 

Yves Saint Laurent by Jeanloup Sieff for "Rive Gauche" perfume
Image courtesy of here

No comments:

Post a Comment