This Charming Man

Dear Reader,

Last Friday I went to see the Yves Saint Laurent film after school. It was in French (I am in France, after all), and I don’t actually know if it has been (or will be) released in other countries. Therefore, I shall give you a brief plot summary before launching into an obsessive rant about the dresses/beautiful things. It is a biography drama that takes place between Saint Laurent’s time as Dior’s apprentice and the creation of his independent fashion house. It touches on his tumultuous relationship with his business partner/boyfriend Pierre (essentially a great deal of saucy scenes/rapid French), unstable mental health, and drug problems. All quite saddening, but despite his numerous problems, he was still able to create many lovely dresses. So many lovely dresses, in fact, that he revolutionized the rules of fashion, redefining the way a woman should (or could for that matter) dress. I wish that my issues would magically transform themselves into high-end, flippant dresses. Sadly they have yet to do this.

But ok the dresses. The dresses. They were crisp, groundbreaking, rosy, creased, and careless. They were hypnotic, silly, precise, but above all, complexly simple. He had an eye for clarity; his work was so uncomplicated yet captivating. There was this one scene where he took a strip of satin, wrapped it around his model’s waist in a very artistic and exquisite manner, and everyone was like ooooh yes all praise Yves we adore him bow down he is our king go Yves (myself included). He literally just wrapped some fabric around her body, but it was somehow so wonderful and beautiful. I do not understand.

Another scene I adored was when he found the inspiration for his famed Mondrian dress (pictured below).

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 3.51.52 PM

He was sitting in his apartment, sketching, when he suddenly rose, haphazardly rumaged through his bookshelf and found a book on Mondrian’s artwork. The scene then shifted to a photo shoot of two models posing confidently in similar boxy, geometric color-block dresses. There was something about their self-assuredness that implied a shift. Saint Laurent was done creating dresses for the reserved, straight-faced woman his previous models all had resembled/represented. The year was 1965 and that woman no longer existed. Feminism was emerging and women’s voices were finally being heard. They were no longer dressing for men but rather for themselves. His new customer/muse was confident, dimpled, and independent. She was happy.

I’d like to leave you with some of my favorite quotes from Yves Saint Laurent and a drawing he made for Vogue that maps out his favorite things. I will probably end up making one of these for myself sometime in the near future because it is just so delightful. Turns out we both love to say silly things, carpets, and the letter Y.



“Genius is childhood recovered.”

“Over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it.”

“We must never confuse elegance with snobbery.”

“Isn’t elegance forgetting what one is wearing?”

“I love bows.”

and my personal favorite:

“I have always believed that fashion was not only to make women more beautiful, but also to reassure them, give them confidence.”

XO, The Girl in the Little Black Dress

Sidenote: Been feeling even more feminist lately. I now need to go write a feminist essay about Ophelia in Hamlet. Women for the win.

All photos from Polyvore. I take no credit.

51 responses

  1. I saw the movie a while ago, and I totally loved it. I’m a big fan of YSL and Pierre Bergé since forever, and I like that this “official” biography of the french designer is totally based on Bergé’s memories, mainly on his Lettres à Yves.


  2. My reaction first seeing this blog is… hmm not my type of reading. Then I read your article, interesting, then I saw your age 16, wow! Please keep writing, I can sense passion and love in your blog that’s why I follow yours, I read 3 article of you already will read more. You’re the 9th blog that I follow. :)


  3. I was actually in Paris when the film was advertised, and though I’m not particularly into fashion, I do remember thinking how interesting it would be to see it! I then promptly forgot about it and bought a ticket to Dallas Buyers Club instead!
    Thanks for the reminder, I think I’ll wait for it to come out in DVD since I doubt they’ll show it here in England :(


  4. Very well written! Now, I want to draw a map of my favorite things, guess I’ll need to learn to draw them first. I can’t wait to see yours. I’d also like to read your paper on Ophelia, too. I’m writing a paper on King Lear from the Feminist perspective.


  5. I just watched this! My favorite quote from the movie was at the beginning, in the press conference, when Yves said, “Every man needs aesthetic ghosts in order to live…” The film has absolutely beautiful imagery; I especially like the Morocco scenes.


  6. Hi Natalie
    I would love to see that movie, but my search for it was unsuccessful. Goodness America, we must have some culture. This post was lovely, and Yves Saint Laurent is positively amazing and iconic. I do agree with you though, I must admit lately I have been feeling much like a feminist, albeit a very feminine one.


  7. You appear to be as passionate about dresses as art as I am about music as art! I also like your writing style and uses of adjectives especially.


  8. I saw the trailer with this and was really intrigued. I don’t know anything about YSL, so it’ll be a great movie to watch!



  9. I read two of your posts and your writing style and intelligence shine. Though I know zip about fashion, I enjoyed your portrait of St. Laurent for the way you made this movie come to life. Looking forward to reading more of your blog!


  10. I was looking forward to this movie but unfortunately the Moroccan government (I currently live there) has decided that the sexual preferences of Mr. Saint Laurent shown on screen are not decent enough for the Moroccan public Ugh! Actually double Ugh!! Especially since YSL did spend half of his adult life here in Marrakesh and Tangiers…We do have the chance though to visit his lovely legacy just around the corner. Great drawing, lovely blog!


  11. Hi Natalie, You truly have a lovely blog, and you are a sensational writer. I look forward to your feminist reading of Ophelia. And should I need any sartorial advice, you’ll be the first person I ask. My main problem right now is keeping the creases in my slacks in the right place. I always manage to create a doppelgänger fold off-center, and it’s grinding my gears—but I reckon I can remedy that with youtube.

    And you pulled some great quotes here. Love the one about the supremacy of the woman wearing the dress over the dress itself. Good stuff.


  12. I loved this piece and the movie traller. I would like to see this movie. :) YSL are the innitials of Yves St. Laurent. The letter could just as easily mean “ You should look” or ” You should listen” to me. “If I can’t express myself I’ll die.” This last is a Laurent quote. I have felt this way at times. Other times I have felt I will likely die because of my expression. :( Restaint also has its place. ~~~&~~~


  13. I love the quotes! And I definitely need to see this movie, in French or otherwise! Thanks for sharing! It was a good inspiration for a Sunday. I kinda want to make a map of the things I like now, too.


  14. Oh I want to see this movie (with subtitles!) – your wonderful description makes it sound so perfectly amazing – full of creativity and beauty – is it half as charming as your sentences about the dresses?! My favorites: “They were crisp, groundbreaking, rosy, creased, and careless. They were hypnotic, silly, precise, but above all, complexly simple.” Thank you!


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