Yves Saint Laurent, one of the greatest fashion designers in history, died at his home in Paris late Sunday at 71 after a long, undisclosed illness. He had been bedridden recently and friends said in the last week he had been unable to eat or talk. Saint Laurent had been rarely seen over the last year, and even then he was wheelchair bound and weak.
Born in Algeria in 1936, Yves Saint Laurent established houses of couture and boutiques in Paris and New York. He was the foremost assistant to Christian Dior and became his successor as head of the House of Dior at the age of 21.
His early collections were noted for their extreme, maverick quality. He opened his own Paris house in 1961, featuring the â€œchic beatnikâ€ look; knitted turtlenecks; thigh-length boots; and short jackets. He revolutionized the fashion world by creating trousers and broad-shouldered suits that were images of power for women.
His later designs include sophisticated tweed suits, the Mondrian dress, pleated skirts, updated peasant costumes, tuxedos for women, and heavy costume jewelry. He also designed for the Ballets of Roland Petit. By the mid-1970s his design empire included sweaters, neckties, eyeglass cases, linens, children’s clothes, and fragrances.