Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent (played by Pierre Niney) grows up in Algeria and loves to design dresses for his mother, Lucienne (by Marianne Basler) and his two young sisters Michèle and Brigitte. At 18 years old, he moves to Paris to study fashion and quickly gets the attention of the Parisien Haute Couture set. He is instantly hired by Christian Dior. Slowly, his sketches and designs are adopted into the collections and when Dior dies prematurely, at only 21 Yves becomes his successor. His first solo collection achieves rave reviews and to ease media angst he shortens his name to Yves Saint Laurent. He struggles through the next few years, then he and his partner, Pierre Bergé (by Guillaume Gallienne) form their own fashion house – YSL. His label and “look” grow in popularity and many celebrities become his clients. Yves Saint Laurent’s heady lifestyle as one of the Paris jet set involves heavy drinking and cocaine. He continues to sketch and design, living in both Morocco and France. He holds fashion shows but struggles with his health and addictions, so if often distant from the day to day arrangements – relying on Pierre to keep the business operating. By the 2000’s the pair have established a steady routine, but he develops brain cancer and dies in June 2008 in Paris. Soon after, heartbroken Pierre undertakes an auction of their extensive collection of art and treasures.
This is a beautifully made movie and the performances by both Pierre Niney and Guillaume Gallienne are wonderful. As Yves Saint Laurent, Niney is captivating, strikingly like YSL in appearance, with a totally authentic portrayal of him. The relationship between these men is turbulent, at times violent but always passionate. It’s a very well told, fascinating story. For this work, Pierre Niney was awarded the César Best Actor (Meilleur acteur) at the 2015 France César Awards. Well done.
Made in 2014. Directed by Jalil Lespert