Yves Saint Laurent, long time French Bulldog owner and ‘tortured genius’ of Fashion, has died at age 71.
While the rest of the world knows him mainly for his fashion, those of us with Frenchies likely know him best for his eccentric approach to dog ownership – over the years, he owned a never ending string of French Bulldogs, each Brindle pied, each with the same name.
Upon the death of each dog, he’d promptly acquire another, and name it Moujik – the same name held by each of its predecessors.
A few years ago, Laurent immortalized the current incarnation of Moujik with a t shirt featuring his image, and Moujik II was the subject of the very last work done by Andy Warhol.
Yves Saint Laurent, dead at 71
Farah Farouque pulls together the colourful threads in the life of a fashion legend.
I ran into Yves Saint Laurent on a Wednesday afternoon a couple of months ago at the Hotel George V having tea with a handsome young man. It was a rare sighting. Saint Laurent was wheelchair-bound by then and had become quite reclusive. He was terribly palsied—he could barely bring the petit fours to his mouth—but seemed in fine form nonetheless.
He was elegantly dressed in a charcoal-gray tailored suit with a colorful silk square pouring out of his upper pocket. He had a slight tan, most likely from his majestic riad in Marrakech. And as my 7-year-old daughter played with his French bulldog Moujik—the sixth or seventh Moujik by now—he smiled a crooked smile and chatted sweetly with her. I didn’t think it would be the last time I’d see him.
But it was. Yesterday, Yves Saint Laurent, the man who changed the way women dressed, died in his home on the rue de Babylone in Paris. He was 71. There were no official reports of what he died from, but for me, it was obvious: 50 years of fame.
Born to a French lawyer and his stylist wife in Oran, Algeria, in 1932, Saint Laurent had dreamed of becoming a fashion designer since childhood.
At the age of 17, he moved to Paris and studied at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture fashion school. In 1954, he shared the first prize of the prestigious International Wool Secretariat award; his co-winner was Karl Lagerfeld.
Saint Laurent was then hired to work as an assistant to another titan of fashion, Christian Dior, and his profound talent was quickly recognized. When Dior dropped dead of a heart attack in 1957 at the age of 52, Saint Laurent was named successor. He was a mere 21 years old. His first collection the following year was such a smashing success that American fashion journalist Marylou Luther wrote, “The king is dead. Long live the king!”
But Saint Laurent’s shyness, reticence, and fragility was greater, evidenced by the famed photo of him leaning out the window of Dior after a show as his fans cheered in the street. “He was already grave, distant, full of poetry, and mystery,” Pierre Bergé, his longtime business partner and companion, told me.
Two years later, the French government informed Saint Laurent that he had to fulfill his military-service duties. The night before he left, he confessed to his friends who had gathered at a villa in the South of France for a farewell weekend that he couldn’t face it. He was the world’s most famous fashion designer and a homosexual: He would never survive in the military, he feared. After 19 days of boot camp, Saint Laurent suffered a nervous breakdown and was sent to the mental ward at the Val-de-Grâce military hospital in Paris.
For six weeks, Saint Laurent was subjected to drug and shock therapy, and he dropped to 80 pounds. Finally, Bergé managed to get him released.
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