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Yves Saint Laurent, Tout Terriblement

2542924321_6c741a8f0c Mabli Jones writing for VINGT Paris, image Da Nes

When looking back at his career, Yves Saint Laurent states ‘I have only one regret: not having invented jeans’. Indeed, there is not much more the late designer could have done to influence the world of fashion and revolutionize the way women dress.  From individual items which liberated ideas of what could be stylish or sexy (‘Le Smoking’ trouser suit, the safari jacket, his modern art-inspired shift dresses), to his whole attitude towards fashion: that a designer should be an artist, but one who creates for modern women, their bodies and their lives.

In this film directed by Jérôme de Missolz, we are immersed into the world of a creative genius. Excerpts from interviews with the designer and his memoirs (read by Jeanne Moreau) are interspersed with archive footage of a master at work:  sketching feverishly, putting the finishing touches to a collection in his atelier, preparing the models before a show; all done with the eyes of a true perfectionist gazing out from behind his trademark square-framed glasses.

Bullied at school, Saint Laurent describes how he retreated into his imagination. The wry, hoarse adult voice of the designer describes how he still lives with the phantoms in ‘this world which I have created for myself since my childhood’, which has isolated him from the external but permitted him to create and share such amazing art.  

The most beautiful shots in the film are those of the tableaux vivants of models wearing some of his most stunning creations, fading in and out across the screen like visions. Yves Saint Laurent, tout terriblement is an absorbing meditation on creativity, exploring the links between an artist’s life and his work. More than that; it is a fascinating, and often poignant, glimpse into the private world of this notoriously mysterious and troubled artist.  We emerge, bleary-eyed and dazzled, from forty five minutes in his world of dreams.

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