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Encounters

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1984 François Mitterrand

 I had separated myself from political life when I became François Mitterrand's friend. The relationship came easily and felt natural. It also fed my vanity, although this aspect of things soon became inisgnifant. I was not guided by any ambition and sought no prizes. Being the privileged witness to the acts of a man whom I admired and soon came to like was enough for me. I had been the friend, sometimes the confidant, of painters, writers, but never of politicians and certainly no one who held such a position. [...] 
We had met several times since he had become president, but first true encounter was in 1984. That is when we became friends. 
- Pierre Bergé 

For a quarter of a century, Yves Saint Laurent has been inventing forms and colors which have entered the history of elegance. He is one of the ambassadors of French genius in the world. 
- François Mitterrand 1986 www.mitterrand.org

1984 Harlem Désir

Pierre Bergé considers Harlem Désir, the founder of SOS Racisme, to be one of the most important figures of the 1980s.

We went to see him and it was obvious that he was truly concerned by our struggle. He was always very involved and very interested in what we were doing. Whenever we needed money for an event, for example a concert, Yves Saint Laurent would give us much more than any other company. When we had dinners for our supporters, Pierre Bergé would always come, often accompanied by the President of the Republic. 
- Harlem Désir

October 1985 Mikhail & Raisa Gorbatchev

Mikhail Gorbachev had just been elected by the Central Committee to the post of General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in March and the faint rumblings of glasnost and perestroika were already being heard around the world when he and his wife, Raisa, visited Paris in October 1985. Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin were the only two couturiers who were honored with a visit by Raisa Gorbachev. She was given a private presentation at the Avenue Marceau salons where Yves Saint Laurent offered her a bottle of Paris and Opium perfumes as a gift.

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1986 Bernard-Henri Lévy

His life is a legend. His name is an empire. His dresses, all alive with the scents of the women who loved them, are entering museums.  And he himself travels through all this - all this glory, all these tributes, all this tumult and fuss - with the silent distance of a great Proustian dandy.  
- Bernard-Henri Lévy

1986 Alain Minc

Top of his class at the famous Ecole Nationale d'Administration, Alain Minc was running Carlo de Benedetti's Cerus when he met Pierre Bergé in 1986. 
He participated in the successful acquisition of Charles of the Ritz which signaled the return of Yves Saint Laurent's perfume line into the fashion house. He subsequently joined YSL's board of directors. 

As soon as I met him, I knew we wre going to do business together. it was obvious. 
- Pierre Bergé

 

1989 Myung-Whun Chung

Chung was hardly known in France in 1988, when he arrived to discuss conducting Verdi's Don Carlos.

Pierre Bergé surprised the operatic world by naming the 36-year-old musical director, as a replacement for Daniel Barenboim, four months before the official opening of the Bastille Opera.

In 1988, Myung-Whun Chung won the Abbiati Prize as the first guest conductor at Florence's Teatro Comunale and in 1989 he was awarded the Arturo Toscanini Prize. Since 1994, he has launched environmental projects for young people through musical festivals. From 1992 to 1997, he was a UN ambassador for the UNDCCP anti-drug program and in 1995 he was named Man of the Year by UNESCO. In 1996, he received the 'Kumkuan', the highest cultural decoration in Korea for his exceptional musical contributions to his home country.

On 1 May 2000, he became the conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France.



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