At only 21, Yves Saint Laurent takes over as artistic director of Dior following the death of Christian Dior, and is heralded as a fashion prodigy. With his partner in business and love, Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent’s personal life is put to film as he is fired by Dior following mental illness and a short term of service in the Algerian War of Independence. Diagnosed at 24 with manic depression, Saint Laurent sues Dior and creates the Yves Saint Laurent company with Bergé, later to become one of the world’s most prolific fashion designers.
Directed by French actor Jalil Lespert, the film stars Pierre Niney as the delicate yet volatile Yves Saint Laurent, Guillaume Gallienne as Pierre Bergé and is produced with the official cooperation of the real Bergé, still alive today. Lespert’s focus upon showing the love story and personal lives of the designer and his partner succeeds in bringing out a lingering vulnerability in their relationship. The casting is excellent, and the performance chemistry between all leading actors complements the characters’ uncertain futures.
The aguiline Pierre Niney has taken his role off the pedestal of international fashion designer, and terrifically shows Saint Laurent’s sickness, irritability, addiction and extreme shyness. His performance reveals the weaker and less attractive side of the designer’s image.
Guillaume Gallienne excellently plays Pierre Bergé as a tense and watchful industrialist. The film also features Charlotte Le Bon as model Victoire Doutreleau and Nikolai Kinski as a young and catty Karl Lagerfeld.
Although it focuses predominantly on the private life of Yves Saint Laurent, the film will be better enjoyed by lovers of fashion and design. As well as being produced with Pierre Bergé, it is also officially in cooperation with the Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, and features beautiful original designs as costume, including the much-celebrated 1976 Ballet Russes Collection. With scenes shot in the designer’s homes in Paris and Marrakesh, the overall production design is visually wonderful, and is complemented by a mix of an original jazz score by Ibrahim Maalouf and selections of rock, Motown and disco of the time.
Yves Saint Laurent is released in cinemas across Australia on Thursday June 26.
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