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Monday, May 23, 2011

Life without Yves Saint Laurent

'L'Amour Fou,' a life without Yves Saint Laurent The tender film follows the late designer's lifetime partner, businessman Pierre Bergé, as he prepares their extensive art collection for auction and comes to terms with Saint Laurent's death. During the last few years, we've seen a lot of fashion films — "Valentino: The Last Emperor," "Coco Before Chanel" and "The September Issue" among them. But "L'Amour Fou," which opens locally Friday, May 20, may be the most tender. It centers around Yves Saint Laurent's lifelong partner, businessman Pierre Bergé, as he comes to terms with the death of the designer. Filmmaker Pierre Thoretton uses the 2009 auction of their extravagant art collection to frame the story and bring up issues of love and loss, especially where they relate to material possessions. The film opens with Saint Laurent giving his televised retirement speech in 2002, during which he says he is proud to have created the modern women's wardrobe. For him, fashion exists not only to make women beautiful but "to reassure them so they can assert themselves." It's a quote from an era when designers seemed to have a loftier purpose. By designing practical pieces, such as safari jackets, trench coats, peasant blouses and Le Smoking suits, Saint Laurent "played a part in the transformation of his time." He also lived that time, the 1960s and '70s, to its jet-set fullest, with three lavish homes — in Paris, Marrakech and Normandy — and an art collection that fetched $483.8 million on the auction block. (The proceeds went to charity and to support the Foundation Yves Saint Laurent in Paris.) Why did Bergé sell it all after the designer's death in 2008? It's hard to tell. Maybe because he was used to playing the role of caretaker to the fragile Saint Laurent, which he did throughout their relationship. He was the yin to the designer's yang, in the same way Giancarlo Giammetti was for Valentino Garavani. In the film, Bergé speaks poignantly about attending to the collection's "funeral" and hoping the precious pieces will "fly off like birds and find a new place they can perch." He adds, "But losing someone with whom you have lived for 50 years, whose eyes you closed … that is another thing entirely." 

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