Yves Saint Laurent is the French fashion house founded by Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent. The house and designer are often abbreviated as YSL.
Laurent’s career in fashion began at the tender age of 17, when he served as assistant to Christian Dior. With Dior’s death four years later, Laurent was named head of the house of Dior at just 21 years of age. Still a young man when the Algerian War of Independence broke out, Laurent was drafted into the army in 1960 and lost his position at Dior. Military service and despair over the loss of his design position resulted in a hospital stay. After a brief period of recuperation, Laurent started his own fashion company and went on to become one of the most influential fashion designers of the 1960s and 1970s.
Laurent became known for his exquisitely-tailored women’s suits, and is credited with creating the first women’s tuxedo. The first designer to announce his expansion from couture into ready-to-wear, he is credited with making chic ready-to-wear fashions available to the mass market, and for making ready-to-wear a reputable business for designers. Laurent’s ready-to-wear line was sold in boutiques named Rive Gauche, which would later be commemorated with a perfume.
Yves Saint Laurent remained active as the collection’s main designer through the late 1980s. After his retirement, a series of designers including Alber Elbaz, Tom Ford and Stefano Pilati have produced collections for the brand. Yves Saint Laurent passed away in 2008.
Cosmetics and perfumes have long been included in the designer’s offerings. The house’s first fragrance, Y for women, was launched in 1964. Y and several other launches by YSL, including Rive Gauche (1970), Opium (1977), men’s scent Kourous (1981), and Paris (1983) have become modern classics of the perfume world and remain best-sellers. The company continues to earn new fans with contemporary releases such as Baby Doll (2000), Elle (2007) and La Nuit de l’Homme (2009). YSL offers fragrances in conjunction with L’Oreal Group.