Yves Saint Laurent

An inside look at a new biopic about the late great designer.

Charlotte Le Bon

As lovers and business partners, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé were inextricably linked during the most fertile phase of the designer’s career. “Over and over, all I heard was, ‘Yves and Pierre, Yves and Pierre,’ ” says the director Jalil Lespert, whose biopic focuses on the years between 1958 and 1976, beginning with the 21-year-old Saint Laurent’s ascent to become head of Christian Dior and culminating in the Ballets Russes collection he designed as master of his own house—including, of course, the Le Smoking tuxes and Mondrian dresses in between. Key to the project was the approval of Bergé, who has been both lionized as the rainmaker who turned Saint Laurent’s fragile genius into an empire and demonized as a “pimp who found his all-star hooker,” as his character (Guillaume Gallienne) puts it in the film. Bergé granted Lespert entrée to the YSL archives (77 pieces were borrowed for the project) and to the designer’s lush retreat in Marrakech, where Saint Laurent (Pierre Niney, in an explosive performance) got high with muses Loulou de la Falaise (Laura Smet) and Betty Catroux (Marie de Villepin). When Bergé saw the final cut, the famously ferocious impresario was moved to tears. (He’s been publicly wary of a competing biopic debuting this fall.) “It’s difficult to make a film about YSL’s genius without being boring,” Lespert explains. “You can’t just show him drawing dresses. The love between Yves and Pierre is the story.”

Photos: Yves Saint Laurent

Pierre Niney as Yves Saint Laurent. Photograph by Thibault Grabherr.

“Here are Pierre Niney as Yves Saint Laurent, and Charlotte Le Bon as the model Victoire Doutreleau, his first muse. She helped Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé create the YSL brand at the end of the 1950s, but she has since been forgotten.” Photograph by Thibault Grabherr.

On the set of Yves Saint Laurent. Photograph by Thibault Grabherr.

Pierre Niney and Jalil Lespert. Photograph by Thibault Grabherr.