The opening scene, Yves Saint Laurent giving his retirement announcement, is emotional and somber, which drew me into the film immediately- there was no turning back. L’Amour Fou, which is translated as ‘crazy love’, is a beautiful film, directed by Pierre Thoretton, telling the tale of love between Yves and Pierre Berge and the life of the precedential couturier, Yves Saint Laurent. The intermittent interviews, b-roll of immaculate estates and shots of Yves’ legendary collections makes for a film you won’t be able to peel your eyes away from.
“Every man needs aesthetic ghosts in order to live. I have pursued them, sought them, hunted them down.” –Yves Saint Laurent during his retirement speech in the opening of L’Amour Fou
During Yves’ retirement speech, he recognizes that he had taken part in fashions’ transformation during his era, making staples like the pant suits and trench coats that not only made women feel more beautiful but also to reassure them and to give them confidence. Which reminded me of another great couturier, Alexander McQueen, when he said, “I want to empower women. I want people to be afraid of the women I dress.”
What I find amazing about this is that Yves and McQueen wanted to empower women all over the world with their clothes. They, like many other designers, have the power to inspire empowerment; they don’t just make clothes, they make a statement. I remember the day I got my first pair of Jeffrey Campbell Litas. Walking into the room with those babies on you get a couple different reactions. The most hilarious one came from my grandmother, who called them Frankenstien shoes. But, I continued to wear them because I don’t give a fuck about what people think about those shoes. I love them. Those shoes are a part of my personal statement.
Back to Yves.
Yves was an artist through and through. The scenes of Yves’ and Berge’s Paris apartment is like walking though a well curated museum, with works of Picasso, Matisse, Klee, Mondrian and Brancusi adorning the walls. Yves had impeccable taste and could make colors never expected to work, work; much like his haute couture.
The underlying story in the film is of the relationship of Yves and Berge, as Berge tells it throughout the film. Their relationship was born out of death, having met at the funeral of Christian Dior, Yves’ master. Yves and Berge’s relationship lasted half a century. They were not only lovers but also business partners, thus creating rocky moments throughout. Through their relationship, Berge does a superb job of telling not only the history of Yves, but personal details- a peak into the life of the artist.
Many thought the death of Christian Dior was the death of couture in Paris. But, Yves at the young age of 21 seized the helm at Dior and took the world by storm. Yves had to do due is diligence in the French military, where he had somewhat of a breakdown during the Algerian War. According to Berge, this stay in the military hospital led to Dior’s dismissal of Yves as their designer. Though, in the book Fashion by Charlotte Seeling, it was said that Yves designs were too futuristic, not what the Dior image was known for. Dior looked into the past for inspiration where as Yves were future oriented. This is how the house of Yves Saint Laurent was born and the rest is history.
The most stunning visuals in the film are of Yves and Berge’s Moroccan estate, where Yves’ ashes were spread in the gardens. The Moroccan décor, complete with beautiful stained glass is an exotic place where I could have only dreamed about its existence.
[Insert weirdness here] I found that Yves and I have something in common. When Yves was asked in an interview what his favorite trait in a man is, he said body hair. I’d have to say that’s one of my favorites as well. Weird, I know.
It is said by Berge and a close friend of Yves’ that he was a person born depressed. In 1975, Yves discovered drugs and alcohol. This was when the two started living in Morocco, parallel to his dramatic, provocative creations like the Russian Collection and Opium perfume. Yves experimental era with drugs and alcohol led to Berge packing his bags and leaving multiple times. But, it was had for Berge to leave Yves in which Berge moved just down the street.
Yves’ withdrawal from public life went hand in hand with his depression. He didn’t want to meet anyone, do any radio or TV. “Fame is the dazzling mourning of happiness,” seems to sum it up perfectly. Fame brought Yves nothing but sadness. In 1990 Yves went to treatment for alcohol and rugs and then never touched it again. Then, the fashion industry changed dramatically. Yves retired because the industry didn’t mean the same thing for him anymore.
Now, hopefully I didn’t give away the whole movie here. Jump to Netflix and watch it for yourself.
(These images are not my own.)