France, 2011, 100 min
Few figures loom larger in the annals of 20th-century style than Yves Saint Laurent. Barely out of his teens when he was appointed head of the House of Dior, he triumphantly launched his own brand only a few short years later. For decades he epitomized the jet-set lifestyle, dressing its luminaries and sharing their giddy excesses. Visual artist Pierre Thoretton’s first feature captures the well-known highs and lows of this remarkable but also stormy career: Saint Laurent’s breakdown when conscripted into the French Army in 1960, during Algeria’s Independence War; signature designs like the Mondrian-inspired dresses that epitomized Pop Art chic; his celebration of feminine beauty via muses from Deneuve to Iman; becoming the first haute couture house to “democratize” fashion via affordable prêt-à-porter lines; working compulsively hard and playing harder in the cocaine-fueled celebrity bubble of Studio 54. But Thoretton’s film provides us privileged access beyond the headlines. Its primary voice is that of Pierre Berge, Saint Laurent’s surviving business and life partner. Recalling their half-century together, Berge decides to surrender some of that past by selling many of their fabulous properties in what is dubbed the auction of the century. As he bids adieu to long-cherished possessions, we get the vicarious thrill of touring sumptuous homes in Morocco and France (one of them an “homage” to Proust) and a stunning art collection that stretches from ancient Egyptian artifacts to Matisse and Warhol. Yves Saint Laurent l’Amour Fou documents a crazy love for all things beautiful.
Special support for this program generously provided by Howard Roffman. Presented in association with Frameline.