Photo Book Review: A Photographic History of Yves Saint Laurent

Yves Saint Laurent was born in Oran, Algeria in 1936 and by the time he was a teen his artistic passion lead him to leave his home for Paris to begin a career in fashion design. Working for Christian Dior allowed his talent to blossom and grow and it wasn’t long before his creations began to attract attention making his name synonymous with style, elegance and high fashion.

Yves Saint Laurent’s vision soon changed the way people regarded haute couture and the world of fashion itself. He revolutionized women’s eveningwear with the introduction of “le smoking”—a woman’s tuxedo—and made couture more accessible (and appealing) to a younger generation hungry for the new ideas he was so willing to supply.

This book, titled simply Yves Saint Laurent, is Roxanne Lowit’s personal photographic history of Saint Laurent, the man and his fashions. Lowit focuses on his career from 1978 (the year they met) to his last show in 2002.

The book features 200 (150 in rich color) of Lowit’s well-crafted images that range from candid shots of the famous designer and celebrities like Grace Jones to behind the scenes moments captured at his various fashion shows. Contributions from YSL’s muses and admirers, including Catherine Deneuve, Betty Catroux, Lucie de la Falaise, Pat Cleveland, and Valerie Steele provide the reader with a rare glimpse of the backstage experience at his shows as Lowit experienced them. Whether surrounded by beautiful models or peeking at the catwalk from the wings, every moment was a magnificent photo opportunity.

Yves Saint Laurent; by Roxanne Lowit, introduction by Pierre Berge; Thames & Hudson; $50; (ISBN: 9780500517604)

Below are a few photos from the book. More info on Roxanne Lowit's Yves Saint Laurent here.

 Opium Party, 1978, Alya Chinn, ©Roxanne Lowit, courtesy of Roxanne Lowit.

New Haute couture Spring 1993, Shalom Harlow, ©Roxanne Lowit, courtesy of Roxanne Lowit.

Ready-to-wear Fall 1984, ©Roxanne Lowit, courtesy of Roxanne Lowit.