Picture a 17-year-old Yves Saint Laurent studying design at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture in Paris. How does it look? Back then, the student designer was bored with what he was learning and so he quit. Fast forward to the inception of his luxury fashion house, the revolutionary designer became the orchestrator of the unspoken, but important bond between art and fashion. His ability to translate the works of these artists was poetic, and today we celebrate what would have been his 80th birthday.
Born in Algeria, Yves Saint Laurent was an original who is responsible for some of the most iconic silhouettes in fashion history. “Yves and I were convinced that fashion is not an art, but fashion needs art to exist,” his longtime companion and business partner Pierre Bergé said to TIME. It’s hard to not acknowledge the grand work of Yves Saint Laurent without also mentioning its influence. The Pop Art movement didn’t go unnoticed. Artists like Andy Warhol inspired Saint Laurent’s 1966 Pop Art Collection consisting of cocktail dresses full of vibrant color and energy. For his 1980 Autumn/Winter collection, the bold work of Henri Matisse became a daring textile on a floor-length gown collaged with satin appliqués that were cut and layered onto the fabric. Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers were reimagined by Saint Laurent onto a jacket for his 1988 Spring/Summer collection.
The archives of his collections showcases the ultimate celebration of culture. Considering the state of today’s fashion cycle, one can not help but wonder what Saint Laurent thoughts would be. One thing is for certain: The world is a better place because of people like Yves Saint Laurent.