Yves Saint Laurent SAS (/ /, also UK: /- -/, US: /- -/, French: [iv sɛ̃ lɔʁɑ̃] ⓘ), also known as Saint Laurent and YSL, is a French luxury fashion house founded in 1962 by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé. The company specializes in haute couture, ready-to-wear, leather accessories, and footwear. Its cosmetics line, YSL Beauty, is owned by L'Oréal.
|Founder||Yves Saint Laurent |
|Revenue||€5.57 billion (2021)|
The eponymous brand was established in 1962 by designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé. The brand's logos were designed in 1963 by A. M. Cassandre. During the 1960s and 1970s, YSL popularized the beatnik look, safari jackets, tight pants, and thigh-high boots. In 1966, YSL debuted Le Smoking, a tuxedo suit for women. In an attempt to democratize fashion, YSL began producing ready-to-wear in 1966, with its launch of Rive Gauche, and is considered to be the first to popularize the concept. YSL's designs often featured designs influenced from traditional Chinese clothing, as well as themes from Pop Art, Ballets Russes, and Picasso. Saint Laurent is credited with initiating the broad, shoulder-padded style in 1978, that would go on to characterize 1980s fashion. Saint Laurent's muses included Loulou de La Falaise, Betty Catroux, Talitha Pol-Getty, Catherine Deneuve and Laetitia Casta.
The brand expanded in the 1980s and early 1990s with men's and women's fragrances, building upon its cosmetic line introduced in 1978. However, by 1992, the company's profits were in decline and its share price had fallen. In 1993, Saint Laurent was sold to pharmaceuticals company Sanofi.
In 1999, Kering purchased YSL and hired Tom Ford to design its ready-to-wear collection, while Yves Saint Laurent himself would design its haute couture collection. Designs by Tom Ford for YSL were chosen Dress of the Year by the Fashion Museum in 2001 and 2004.
In 2002, after years of personal issues as well as criticisms of YSL designs, Saint Laurent closed the couture division of YSL. In 2004, Tom Ford departed the company and Stefano Pilati, an Italian-born designer, became creative director. Yves Saint Laurent died of brain cancer in 2008. The following few years proved to be tumultuous for the company, with YSL stores closing in the key U.S. markets of San Francisco and New York (including the company's Madison Avenue location, its first-ever store in the United States). In January 2010, its Chicago boutique on Oak Street also closed.
In 2012, Kering announced Hedi Slimane would return to the brand, replacing Stefano Pilati as creative director for YSL. In 2015, Slimane announced he would revive Yves Saint Laurent's haute couture line, and proceeded to do so. After his appointment, Slimane moved the design studio to Los Angeles, Slimane's home; the couture atelier would remain in France.
Despite Slimane previously working with the house, there was controversy following his appointment, particularly after the house announced their ready-to-wear line would be rebranded "Saint Laurent" (dropping "Yves" from its name). "Yves Saint Laurent" and the YSL vertical monogram logo would remain for accessories and its L'Oréal-owned cosmetics line. Slimane drew inspiration for the name change from the ready-to-wear line Rive Gauche's name when it first launched, "Saint Laurent Rive Gauche".
Parisian boutique Colette began selling shirts with the line "Ain't Laurent without Yves." Saint Laurent requested the store stop selling the shirts (which it did on its online store). In October 2013, Colette received a letter from YSL accusing it of selling counterfeit products that seriously damaged the brand. Following the accusation, Saint Laurent canceled Colette's order for its Spring 2014 Collection, despite Colette stocking the brand since 1998.
In 2016, Slimane left Saint Laurent and Anthony Vaccarello was appointed creative director, a position he still holds as of August 2022. When COVID-19 negatively impacted the sales of YSL, Vaccarello came up with the idea to sell the handbags at a discounted price in bulk to wholesalers, without the authentication and 12 digit serial number leather tag, expanding the brand's market and available price points. In 2017, Vaccarello chose Charlotte Gainsbourg, daughter of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, as face of the A/W 2017 campaign. In July 2020, singer-songwriter Rosé was named the first-ever global ambassador of Yves Saint Laurent.
In April 2023, the house launched Saint Laurent Productions, a production company for art cinema. Costumes for films made by the company will be designed by Saint Laurent's creative director, Anthony Vaccarello. The production company's first films are two shorts: Pedro Almodóvar's Strange Way of Life and Jean-Luc Godard's posthumous Trailer Of The Film That Will Never Exist: Phony Wars. Both premiered at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival. The company's next project is David Cronenberg's upcoming film The Shrouds.
Advertising and criticism edit
In June 2015, the company was criticized for an advertisement published in the Elle UK magazine that was banned by the UK advertising regulator, which ruled that the model featured in it was "unhealthily thin".
On March 8, 2017, a new advertisement for the Fall 2017 collection offended internet users who saw it as a "degrading vision of women" and again the use of anorexic models. The company was ordered to remove two posters from this campaign by the French Advertising Standards Authority (ARPP), which ruled them "degrading".
Tax evasion edit
According to an investigation by Mediapart and the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) network, the company Yves Saint Laurent evaded approximately €180 million in taxes in France between 2009 and 2017, through an offshore scheme organized by its parent company Kering. Between 2009 and 2017, the journalists detail, €550 million in profits were thus returned to a Swiss subsidiary of Kering, called Luxury Goods International (LGI), whose profits were taxed at around 8% by the canton of Ticino with the help of a tax agreement (while the corporate tax rate is 33% in France), while the company officially only realized €7 million in cumulative profits in France between 2009 and 2016 (resulting in an imposition of €430,000).
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What Saint Laurent sprang on the fashion world last January when he introduced man‐tailored suit jackets with shoulders squared out with padding...has now become staple fashion in Italy, France and America.
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