“Saint Laurent” , the second film about the designer looks at Yves Saint Laurent’s life from 1967 to 1976, during which time the famed fashion designer was at the peak of his career. Director and co-writer Bertrand Bonello gives us a very slick look at one of the gods of modern fashion. In one of the scenes at the end of the film, we get a close-up of the face of a model who as a way to appease Yves (Gaspard Ulliel) and his desire for thin eyebrows, has each of hers methodically plucked, then brushed with a dark pencil. When she puts on a little lipstick, we see an entirely new face looking at us and that becomes the face of Yves Saint Laurent.
St. Laurent was a playboy and managed to sleep with whomever he wanted. Here we see him early on picking up models Betty Catroux and Loulou in nightclubs and persuading them to be both his muse and playmates while at the same time even though he and Pierre Bergé are lovers and business partners but that doesn’t stop St. Laurent from beginning a very intense drug-fuelled affair with model Jacques de Bauscher who happened to be designer Karl Lagerfeld’s boyfriend at the time. It is only the intervention of Bergé that brings this relationship to a quick close, but Berge also seems to be to continually pulling Saint Laurent out of trouble that he gets himself into.
I understand that Berge worked hard to stop this movie from being made which is interesting since it is flattering to him and we see him as the person who saved St. Laurent and the business.
Gaspard Ulliel is perfect as Saint Laurent. and Louis Garrel gives a brilliant performance as de Bauscher as does Jérémie Renier as Berge. The flashes forward into the future that show Saint Laurent as an old man and portrayed by Helmut Berger, are the weak spots of the film.
The clothes are wonderful throughout. The film ends with Saint Laurent’s exquisite Moroccan-inspired collection in 1976 which ended the creative dry-spell that the designer had been going through, and which seemed a fitting way to recognize the genius of one of fashion’s giants.
The movie was France’s Official Submission to the Academy of Motion Pictures for a Best Foreign Movie Nomination, meanwhile Ms. Romand won a César Award (French Oscar) for work, plus M. Saint Laurent’s dog Moujik actually won a special Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival for his painfully sad ‘dying’ scene.