YVES SAINT LAURENT, SPLENDOR AND DECADENCE OF A HAUTE COUTURE PHARAOH

Who lies behind the perfect, candid and at the same time ambiguous face of Yves Saint Laurent? Which obsessions inhabit his body sheathed in precisely and minimalistic cut gowns, bound in opulent scent?

 

Many questions jump to mind when we evoke this almost untouchable character, kind of a guru wrapped in a cloud of patchouli. His life, the legend that hovers around the myth of a creative talent without limits, has been marked by fame but also by inner torments.

YSL career has been invariably accompanied by moments of great loneliness, the search for impossible perfection between perversion and excess. His is a true intimate apocalypse, a constant throw-in played between the ephemeral fame and awareness of a world dominated by the law of beauty, youth and luxury.

YSL has been stifled by his boundless ego that made him lose sense of reality, bringing in an ambiguous and hallucinatory universe, driven by an immense need for recognition and adulation. Dealing with the life of a true haute couture’s legend isn’t certainly a trivial task. Indeed, for those who approach the myth with too much self-assurence or perhaps too lightly, this can turn into a real trap.

Bertrand Bonello, the brilliant French film director of House of Tolerance and The Pornographer has been able to avoid the pitfalls staging a tortured YSL that, behind an onyx facade, is slowly crumbling. Bonello didn’t want to shoot a film about YSL, but rather transpose on screen an inner universe made of self-destructive neurosis and hidden vices.

The cinematic language is extremely sophisticated, mysterious and seductive. A sort of aesthetic manifesto that presents at hte same time the creative andthe inevitable decay of a myth. As in all of his films, Bonello accompanies the images with an incredibly powerful soundtrack that goes under the skin and touches the deepest emotions.

Bonello prefers to summon the tutelary deities that populated the YSL universe rather than relying solely on real stories. Proust, Bach or even Visconti (with Helmut Berger in the shoes of YSL in the last years of his life) are some of the french fashion designer references, who loved to bask in an opulent and obsessive past world. But isn’t life itself an illusion, a search for something that basically is already part of the past?

Bonello depicts the obsessions of YSL, the hidden world of a man who has become legend, a pharaoh who was thought to perpetuate his own myth while he still had to learn to live.