Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, the turbulent love story and the birth of the maison

Villa Oasis, Marrakech

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From art to the seventh art

After the designer’s death, the entire collection of works of art was auctioned at Christie’s in 2009. An event – which led to a revenue exceeding € 375 million – well described in the documentary Yves Saint Laurent – Pierre Bergé, amour fou, directed in 2010 by Pierre Thoretton. In the film, the director shows how each packaged painting and each object removed from the environment where the two lived represents a cruel but inexorable tear, a necessary loss. Three years later, in 2014, two other films were released – this time belonging to the biopic – on the life and loves of the designer: Yves Saint Laurent from Jalil Lesperte (who defined the one between Yves and Pierre “one of the most beautiful love stories of 1900”) starring Guillaume Gallienne (Bergé) and Pierre Niney (Saint Laurent), and Saint Laurent from Bertrand Bonello, a film that immerses the viewer in the 70s that the couturier dressed in racée elegance. A journey into the madness and mental odyssey of a brilliant man – played by the late Gaspard Ulliel – intoxicated by the work that, to ward off his demons, plunged into worldliness, into addictions, into the darkness of the night.

Pierre’s letters (and confessions)

On June 1, 2008, after a long illness, Yves Saint Laurent died at the age of 72, defeated by a brain tumor. A few months before him she managed to marry her Pierre (who in 2017, in the same way, will marry her partner Madison Fox civilly shortly before dying). A last gesture of love which, however, did not manage to soften the pain of loss very much. Bergé exorcised his absence by sending him several sentimental letters that he collected in the book-confession Letters to Yves, published in 2010. As if he were still alive, Pierre writes to Yves, reminding him of the happy moments spent together and sharing his new life without him. A tribute in which the companion-partner – always very reserved – decided to finally tell his truth.

Bergé says it all, starting from the reasons for his love for Yves: “I would never have been able to love a man without talent, I would have been enormously bored: I have dedicated my whole life to Yves convinced of his talent, of what his destiny. I stood beside him simply and proudly so that his glory and his grandeur could never fade ». They also find space in the text the ghosts of his late companion: «Yves was unfortunately ill, the pathology existed. Yves knew how to manipulate it, magnify it, lighten it according to moods. I remember one day in New York. I saw Yves falling into the void, I tore him from death. It wasn’t the first time. After all, he loved to play with death ». In addition to the attempts (all unsuccessful) of suicide, temptations, secret passions and betrayals of the creative are also told without fear (when he took a crush on Jacques de Bascher, a cursed dandy with a bad reputation, Bergé threatened the boy with death). Instead, intimate couple secrets are revealed without shame: “The engine of our life? The sex: it has allowed us to live, grow, create, desire ».

Deeply different (but always united)

Yves and Pierre could not have been more different, and perhaps that was their strength. Yves was brilliant and wild, shy and fragile. Pierre, on the other hand, was a lucid, authoritarian and enterprising businessman, so coldly rational that he earned the nickname “the pit bull of French fashion”. Together they immediately formed a symbiotic but synergistic partnership. The deep esteem and mutual dependence allowed the couple to overcome betrayals and crises. They overcame everything, managing to complete each other, as Bergé wrote: “We could not do without each other: many thought that Yves was totally dependent on me, but I was also dependent on him, ours was a love indissoluble”.

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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