Loulou de la Falaise, friend and muse:
“I was 21, and a swinging London hippie dressed in Ossie Clark. The truth is that what Yves found attractive in me was the fantasy, over-the-top bedecked look. Betty Catroux was the one who inspired all of his mannish looks; I’ve always been the gypsy influence.
“He had an amazing survival instinct and an amazing flair for what was going on in the world even though he lived in a white tower…. He had this nervous energy. Thirty years is a hell of a time. He was also like my family, my blood. I can remember going to Deauville with Yves before he had a house there and him being exasperated by the contents of my suitcase. We went to the fish market, where he bought a tin of those pins with colored baubles that one uses to eat snails, and he used them to decorate one of my T-shirts. It wasn’t very comfortable, but it looked great!”
Helene de Ludinghausen, inspector of boutiques, 1969–71; couture director, 1971–2002, Yves Saint Laurent:
“I was impressed by his elegance. He was always charming—but aloof and distant. There was a very sharp eye behind his spectacles…. It was a surgical eye, and he was seldom wrong. He was extremely polite. In all the years I worked for him, I never heard him have a harsh word for anyone.
“His sketches had movement to them. Just by the way it was drawn, the atelier would know how to make it. There were fluidity and lightness in his sketches. He really was an exceptional artist. He had an extraordinary sense of humor. He always saw the ironical side of things. He took things seriously, but he didn’t take himself seriously. He was neither arrogant nor self-content. He was extremely intelligent, and he was never very interested in what other people did. He was extremely sure of what he did, and he never compromised. During a fitting, he immediately saw that thing that could be changed. He was always taking off, never adding. He never interacted with clients. The only one he saw was Marie-Hélène de Rothschild. No one else. It wasn’t his thing. He needed his distance. He was easily amused, but nothing mediocre amused him. If he was bored when he was talking to you, he’d pretend to be asleep. He would put his head on his desk and sleep. The whole house adored him. People would do anything for him, and he never asked for anything.”
Jacques Granges, interior designer:
“I first knew Yves as a friend and then as a decorator. I think of his beauty, charm and intelligence, his rigor and his laser eye. He was always very rapid, and to work with him was pure pleasure. Everything was possible, droll and light. People talk of his suffering, but with houses it was always about pleasure. I remember when he bought the Goya and how impressed I was. I was much younger, and it was a lot of money. But he and Pierre would say that life was meant for pleasure. I’ll also remember his varied taste, which went from orientalism to Napoleon III to Art Deco. No one looked at Art Deco anymore except for him and Andy Warhol. I’m sure that people will remember Saint Laurent’s taste.”