The Ascension to The Throne


Yves Saint Laurent, the then-new head of Maison Dior, surrounded by house models wearing his designs. Photo: Loomis Dean, 1958

 
 

Yves Saint Laurent was introduced to designer Christian Dior by Michel De Brunoff, the editor of French Vogue.

To start with, he was given mundane tasks to complete but after winning first prize in the International Wool Secretariat contest for his cocktail dress design in 1954, Yves Saint Laurent landed the job of Haute Couture designer when Dior died in 1957 at the age of 52. At the tender age of 21, he launched a spring collection for the fashion house and gained critical acclaim for his dresses as the head of the House of Dior.

In 1960, he was conscripted into the French Army. His spell in the service was short-lived however, and he was transferred into a French mental hospital suffering from stress, where he underwent psychiatric treatment, including electroshock therapy, for a nervous breakdown. He served in the military for just 20 days.

In 1962, in the wake of his nervous breakdown, Saint Laurent was released from Dior and started his own label, YSL, financed by his companion, Pierre Bergé.

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