Fashion & Beauty / Quotes of Note

Fabulous Words of Wisdom From Yves Saint Laurent

On the anniversary of his birth, we present our top ten quotes from the famously eloquent fashion designer

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Yves Saint Laurent, 1972Polaroid by Andy Warhol

It is no secret that during his lifetime Yves Saint Laurent changed the language of fashion indelibly, emboldening women around the globe with his powerful, yet sensual designs. As his close friend, the actress Catherine Deneuve once noted, “Saint Laurent designs for women with a double life. His clothes for daywear help women to enter a world full of strangers. They enable her to go wherever she wants without arousing unwelcome attention, thanks to their somehow masculine quality. However, for the evening, when she may choose her company, he makes her seductive.”

But he was also a master of language itself, regularly delivering eloquent statements of creative intent, and musing with great lyricism on the minutae of his craft. “Haute couture consists of secrets whispered from generation to generation,” he once declared. “If, in ready-to-wear, a garment is manufactured according to standard sizes, the haute couture garment adapts to any imperfection in order to eliminate it.”

In 1968, when his popularity as a designer had reached fanatical heights, he said, “So they have crowned me king. Look what happened to the other kings of France.” But despite this foreboding, almost Shakespearean pronouncement, Saint Laurent remained the darling of his adopted homeland, and the fashion world at large, until his death in 2002, aged 71. Today, both his design ethos, and shrewd observations on style, elegance and the power of the black dress, remain as relevant and inspiring as ever before. Here, in celebration of what would have been his 81st birthday, we revisit ten of his most witty one-liners, and poetic pronouncements.

  1. “The most beautiful clothes that can dress a woman are the arms of the man she loves. But for those who haven’t had the fortune of finding this happiness, I am there.”
  2. “A good model can advance fashion by ten years.”
  3. “I love black because it affirms, designs and styles. A woman in a black dress is a pencil stroke.”
  4. “Fashions fade, style is eternal.”
  5. “I wish I had invented blue jeans. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity: all I hope for in my clothes.”
  6. “Chanel freed women, and I empowered them.”
  7. “We must never confuse elegance with snobbery.”
  8. “Good clothing is a passport for happiness.”
  9. “The most beautiful makeup is passion, but cosmetics are easier to buy.”
  10. “I tried to show that fashion is an art. For that, I followed the counsel of my master Christian Dior and the imperishable lesson of Mademoiselle Chanel. I created for my era and I tried to foresee what tomorrow would be.”
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