Yves Saint Laurent
Yves Saint Laurent’s sumptuous creations, that mesmerised – and sometimes scandalised – the fashion world, are themselves so compelling in their dazzling visual drama that any inspiration generated enticing someone into making a film of the life of their designer is certainly understandable. The scenes that recreate some of Saint Laurent’s runway shows, from 1957 up until his legendary Ballet Russes inspired show in 1976, have been faithfully recreated in French director Jalil Lespert’s new biopic starring Pierre Niney as the soft-spoken, troubled genius of French fashion, leaving the audience cooing at the spectacle, even during those instances when the pace of the film lags.
The film – the first of two rival productions, both set for release this year – is an engaging look at the life of the fashion icon. Beginning in 1957, the story recounts his rise to fame from under the tutelage of Christian Dior, ultimately becoming his heir after the latter’s death. As his mental health rapidly deteriorates, however, he is fired. This prompts him and his life partner Pierre Bergé into trying it out solo, resulting in them founding their own brand. As the swinging 60s move along, Saint Laurent gets caught up in the decade’s culture of sex, drugs and rock n roll, which fuel his inspiration but eventually take their toll on his health.
The period is stylishly depicted by way of Thomas Hardmeier’s cinematography and Aline Bonetto’s production design, that portray Paris throughout the succession of decades in elegant, faded tones. The formulaic screenplay is skilfully acted by its talented cast – Niney, Guillaume Gallienne as Pierre Bergé, and Charlotte Le Bon as Saint Laurent’s first muse Victoire Doutreleau, among others. In the end though, Yves Saint Laurent’s career and his contribution to contemporary fashion is so fascinating on its own that a dramatisation of his life seems almost unnecessary; a documentary (of which a few have been made) would seem the more appropriate format in regaling the career of such a genius, whose private life – marked by alcoholism and drug abuse – although illuminating, does not add to one’s appreciation of his oeuvre. What he created, more so than how he lived, is what will inspire future generations of fashion designers.
Yves Saint Laurent is released in select cinemas on 21st March 2014.
Watch the trailer for Yves Saint Laurent here: