Yves Saint Laurent movies, like Christian Louboutin heels, tend to come in pairs.

In France, Yves Saint Laurent movies, like Christian Louboutin heels, tend to come in pairs.

Ever since I was at Fashion College years, I have had an obsession with Yves Saint Laurent. Happily a two new French biopics about the designer has been made. In France these days, big movies, like Christian Louboutin heels, tend to come in pairs. Last year, the  thrilling battle was declared when two separate biopics about French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent (who died in 2008) were announced and concurrently touted at Berlin’s European Film Market, where images of their competing YSL lookalikes were shown to buyers and press.

The first YSL project unveiled was Bertrand Bonello’s Saint Laurent, featuring Hannibal Rising star Gaspard Ulliel in the titular role. Plans for actor-turned-director Jalil Lespert’s Yves Saint Laurent, starring Comedie Francaise thespian Pierre Niney, were divulged later on but the movie was then streamlined into completion, landing on French screens in January 2014 before premiering in Berlin. Bonello’s film bowed in Cannes months afterward.

The War of Le Smoking — to cite Saint Laurent’s famous tuxedo suit for women — escalated when the designer’s longtime companion and business partner, Pierre Berge, threw his weight behind the Lespert project, granting the production access to the couple’s estates in Paris and Marrakech, while helping recreate YSL’s memorable Opera Ballets Russes collection of 1976, which closes out the film and remains one of its highlights.

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The film stars actor Pierre Niney who looks strikingly like the designer and portrays him as a nervous wreck, fiddling anxiously and exploding into tantrums.

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Such was Niney’s devotion to the part that he is said to have obsessively watched old television interviews of the designer, spent hours with an illustrator who worked closely with Saint Laurent, took lessons in design, sewing and drawing and sifted through the archives at the Fondation Pierre Bergé -Yves Saint Laurent, which holds 8,000 outfits created by designer.
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The costume designer, Madeline Fontaine, apparently had to work under incredibly strict rules. Fontaine had to wear white gloves to handle the clothes & was told that the pieces for the show scenes could not be altered. Instead, she had to cast models to fit the existing dresses.

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Guillaume Gallienne stars as Pierre Berge – his lifelong business and one-time romantic partner, whom he met in the 1950s.  They were together until the designer’s death in 2008.

Yves Saint Laurent movie - 20 Pierre Niney as Yves Saint Laurent in the film of the same name. Yves Saint Laurent movie - 22

Such was Niney’s devotion to the part that he is said to have obsessively watched old television interviews of the designer, spent hours with an illustrator who worked closely with Saint Laurent, took lessons in design, sewing and drawing and sifted through the archives at the Fondation Pierre Bergé -Yves Saint Laurent, which holds 8,000 outfits created by designer.

Yves Saint Laurent movie - 23 Pierre Niney as Yves Saint Laurent in the film of the same name. Yves Saint Laurent movie - 25

Director Jalil Lespert had extensive access to the foundation archive, and was also able to film at Saint Laurent and Bergé’s stunning home in Morocco.
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These images from the movie  Saint Laurent are photographed by Thibault Grabherr and Anouchka de Williencourt. Black and White images are real life photos of Yves Saint Laurent.

The cast also includes a young Karl Lagerfeld (played brilliantly by Nikolai Kinski), Yves models & long-time muses Betty Catroux (Marie de Villepin) & Loulou De La Falaise (Laura Smet).

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Critic’s Notebook: All About Yves (The Battle of the Saint Laurent Biopics)

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