Now, Yves Saint Laurent to hum along to
Alain Chamfort, the French singer and composer, is not a fashion addict. Nevertheless his new album, Une Vie Saint Laurent, is like a musical mini-biography of Yves Saint Laurent, with 16 songs about the designer’s life. Best known for his 70s’ hit “Manureva,” Chamfort started his career as Jacques Dutronc’s pianist and later worked with iconic French musicians such as Serge Gainsbourg and Claude Francois. He was approached by lyricist Dominique Burgaud about recording the Saint Laurent tribute in 2008, a few months before the mythic couturier died. The pop-rock album will be made into a musical at the Chaillot National Theater at the end of next year.
What did you think about this project at first ?
I thought it was a strange idea. I was skeptical. Who will find this interesting? I did not know Yves Saint Laurent’s life, I only knew the YSL rive gauche store.
You never went to a Saint Laurent’s show, or other fashion shows?
No, never. So I read lots of Yves Saint Laurent biographies. Then, I thought it was a legitimate project.
In researching the designer’s life, what struck you most?
It was like he was born under a lucky star. Everything about his life just seemed natural to him. Meanwhile, he gave woman more power by designing a man’s suit for them, he helped the homosexual cause by not hiding his relationship with Pierre Bergé. He was a visionary: he started at Dior at 19, a child, and created a full collection at 21!
What were you doing at 21?
I was writing songs for Claude François. I would not have been able to have Saint Laurent’s responsibilities—the destiny of a prestigious couture house on my shoulders. And he did marvelously.
Anyone else you admire in the fashion world?
Karl Lagerfeld has a lot of talent. But it’s very different. He adapted to his time, when Saint Laurent changed his era.
In the 70s, people did a lot of crazy stuff. Michel Polnareff showed his butt on his concert posters, Saint Laurent posed nude to sell his perfume. Would you have been able to do something a little risqué to sell an album?
I don’t think so—I’m not an extroverted person. Saint Laurent was one of the first one to put himself at his brand’s service, and in a very artistic way.
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