YVES SAINT LAURENT'S PARTNER PIERRE BERGE' DIES AT 86
A MAN OF SUBSTANCE
Pierre Bergé, the longtime partner of Yves Saint Laurent, died at 86 at his home in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
A leading figure in fashion, the arts and in politics, Bergè never shied from speaking him mind and creating controversy. His death comes just weeks before the inauguration of two Yves Saint Laurent museums in Paris and Marrakech. Two unique venues that will highlight the work and talent of the legendary couturier who passed away in 2008.
Known for his sharp tongue, tireless energy and ruthless attitude, Bergé was a visionary, a shrewd businessman and a patron of the arts who was deeply intertwined with the cultural world. He held many influential posts including being the co-owner of French newspaper Le Monde, the founder of AIDS charity Sidaction and the former president of the Paris Opera.
Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent founded the couture house in 1961, spearheading it until 2002. Over the decades they became one of fashion’s best-known power couples, creating one of the world’s most storied and celebrated labels.
Though polar opposite, he and Yves Saint Laurent were perfectly complementary, balancing their strengths and weaknesses ultimately creating a stability that lasted for over 40 years.
Together they enjoyed an elitist circle of friends that included a crop of influential artists, writers and politicians of the era, ranging from François Mitterrand to Jean Cocteau to Andy Warhol.
Bergé was born on l’Île d’Oléron, a French island off the Atlantic, on Nov. 14, 1930. At 18 he moved to Paris where he met Saint Laurent at a dinner party hosted by Dior.
Shortly afterward, Saint Laurent took over as head designer of the house after Dior’s premature death in 1957. During Saint Laurent’s leave to serve in the army, he was replaced by Marc Bohan, so he and Bergé started their own label, unveiling their first collection in 1962 to stellar reviews.
As his success scaled to the highest rungs of the fashion ladder, Saint Laurent attracted a crop of high-profile clients including the Duchess of Windsor, Catherine Deneuve, Lee Radziwill, Paloma Picasso, Jacqueline de Ribes, Lauren Bacall and Leslie Caron.
The couple split romantically in 1976, but Bergé and Saint Laurent continued to remain business partners and friends.