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Les collections avant 1962

Pierre Bergé arrive à Paris

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verify the date

"...I went to Paris to get on with it." - PB in American Vogue, January 1980

A few months before his baccalauréat, PB leaves school and heads for Paris to become a writer or journalist. Years later, he tells an interviewer, "I didn't want to get caught up in the system."

He rents a place near République and starts earning a living by trading secondhand books.

Text: short description of the atmosphere of the time, Saint Germain des Prés, Sartre, jazz ...

Naissance d'Yves Mathieu-Saint-Laurent à Oran, Algérie

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Yves Saint Laurent gagne le troisième prix du Secrétariat de la laine, catégorie 'robe'

"Passez votre bac!"

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à trouver l'annonce dans Paris-Match

just after 17th birthday sees a competition entry in Paris-Match for the International Wool Scretariat annual contest
judges were famous couturiers like Pierre Balmain and Christian Dior
He sends three sketches : a dress, suit and coat, wins third prize in dress category

YSL visits Paris for the first time with his mother to accept the wool secretariat's third prize.

First encounter with Vogue director Michel de Brunhoff who will have an influential effect on the young man's life. He exhorts him to get his secondary school diploma: "Passez votre bac!"

Yves Saint Laurent et Karl Lagerfeld

YSL obtient le premier et troisième prix "robe" du Secrétariat de la laine

à trouver: film pathé

Le modele qui obtient le premier prix - une robe de cocktail en crêpe noir - sera réalisé dans les ateliers de Hubert de Givenchy.

La même année, Karl Lagerfeld, 21 ans, obtient le premier prix "manteau"

« Dior agreed to meet me, looked at my designs and offered me a job. »

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Autumn 1954, YSL is enrolled at the Chambre Syndicale school, dashing Charles’ ambition for him to become a lawyer

had a room in the apartment of a family friend on the bd Perreire and went to courses in rue St Roch

YSL was bored by courses and thought of quitting the school. Charles wrote to de Brunhoff for help. YSL comes back to see him with some more sketches and de Brunhoff is astonished to see the resemblance with Dior’s 1955 couture collection which had not been shown to the public yet. Dior had privatelly shown the designs for the ‘A’ Line that morning. He immediately called Dior and told him he had to see YSL before going on vacation. « Dior agreed to meet me, looked at my designs and offered me a job. »

"Yves is the one who will succeed me."

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Dior grows more weary and nervous with the growing success. YSL contributes more and more designs to the collections. In 1957 Autumn collection he has 35 designs.

Dior tells Lucienne : « Yves is the one who’ll succeed me » ch2-28

Several days later he dies of a heart attack in a spa in Montecatini, Italy.

Yves Saint Laurent Takes the Reins at Dior

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After death of Dior, Boussac pondered closing down the house. But the licensees came to Paris and urged Rouët to tell his boss to change his mind.

On 15 November 1957 Rouët holds a press conference at Avenue Montaigne and declares that Yves Mathieu-Saint-Laurent will be responsible for all the sketches at the house of Dior.

A la mort de Christian Dior, l'occasion qui se présenta de créer mes propres collections me fit abandonner le projet de travailler pour la scène. A vingt et un ans, je pénétrai dans une sorte de forteresse de célébrité qui devint le piège de ma vie. L’amour du théâtre ne m’abandonnerait jamais, mais entre-temps Dior m’avait appris à aimer quelque chose d’autre que la mode et le stylisme : la noblesse fondamentale du métier de couturier. Je crois qu’un créateur qui n’est pas aussi un couturier, qui n’a pas appris les secrets les plus subtils de la création - réelle - de ses modèles, est comme un sculpteur qui donne ses dessins à un autre, un artisan qui les réalise. Pour lui, le processus tronqué de la création s’apparentera toujours à un acte d’amour interrompu, et son style en portera la flétrissure, l’appauvrissement.
- Yves Saint Laurent, 1983


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YSL leaves for Oran with nine weeks to go to the next show. « I prepared for that collection in a complete state of elation. I knew I was going to be famous. notes ch3-3
YSL had already introduced the softer « chemise » look under Dior. For the first collection he decided to go halfway between the formal Dior look and a more comfortable design.

A frenzy of anticipation was building in Paris and by the time the day of the show arrived – 30 January 1958 – the salon was jampacked. Cars blocked the street and bystanders ogled the arriving celebrities.

The Trapèze line is a sensation. « An American fashion editor sitting in front of me rose to her feet with tears in her eyes. There were two French women next to me also crying. One turned to the other and said, ‘my dear, France is saved. It’s Joan of Arc.’ I remember thinking that was a ridiculous thing to hear from a woman who had lived through the war. » said Marie-José Lepicard. ch3-7

YSL went to a balcony over Avenue Montaigne where his photo was taken with people cheering him from the street below. Photographers perched on the other balconies to take shots. « The collection was delight. he was le petit prince
and everyone adored him. » Janie Samet who was now working at l’Aurore. ch3-8

PB and YSL meet for the first time

The New York Times: ‘Today’s collection has made a French national hero out of Dior’s successor, Yves Saint Laurent and
comfortably assures the future of the house Dior built.' ch3-10

The Herald Tribune: ‘It seemed impossible that Dior himself wasn’t coming out at the end... Everybody was crying. It was
the emotional fashion binge of all time."ch3-11

also need the French press

Deuxième rencontre entre Pierre Bergé et Yves Saint Laurent

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They meet at a dinner organized by Marie-Louise Bousquet, French representative of Harper's Bazaar. PB is managing the career of Bernard Buffet.

Yves Saint Laurent sous les drapeaux

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Painful experience of being hospitalized at Val-de-Grâce. Is replaced at Dior by Marc Bohan.

During a visit to his bedside, PB and YSL decide to start their own couture house. "

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