Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style

Image of Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style
Release Date: 
October 10, 2016
Reviewed by: 

There are two kernels of advice that immediately came to mind upon the completion of reading this book. Number one: Don’t judge a book by its cover. Number two: Always consider the source.

Number one, though a bit hackneyed and old school, remains great advice especially here as Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style is a rather unassuming book by appearance, when in fact it is one of the most superbly written and illustrated of its genre. The main focus of this brilliantly written and curated book is the life of Yves Saint Laurent beginning with his time at Dior and his seismic ascension through the ranks of international fashion until his retirement.

“I am no longer concerned with sensation and innovation, but with the perfection of style,” he says.

The latter of the two sayings concerns the writer, Florence Müller (the source), who has flawlessly and reverentially provided the story of a man named Yves Saint Laurent and his life’s work. She is to be commended for her laser focus and laudatory tone in discussing his oeuvre rather than the travails and health issues that plagued his life of genius creativity. The mindset of the book is quite engaging and almost intimate as when reading one gets the feeling that you are on the receiving end of a conversation.

“I don’t like too much fashion, I like clothes.” —YSL

Within its genre Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style stands alone as it is neither a coffee table book, an exhaustive biography, nor a hyper-photo laden catalog of the designer’s work.

The foreword by Pierre Berge is not overly complimentary nor completely detached. He offers a pitch perfect and highly professional assessment and accounting of what the reader will experience in this book, which will be much more than expected by most.

The book may not be the most comprehensive in terms of YSL’s total visual catalog and life history, but it is surely one of the most informative books of its kind. Florence Müller skillfully examines the man and his deep commitment to his own profession as well as to the business of fashion. She paints YSL as one of the greatest designers of our time, if not one of the greatest of any time.

“I am not interested in beauty. I am interested in shock and seduction.” —YSL

This is a must read for anyone who has any interest in the man or the world of fashion during the 20th century and beyond. Again, do not expect an amazing visual feast but know that you are given far more insight and never before published photos than you might expect. Take note that at the end of a book is a redacted interview with the maestro as well as a press clipping from 1958 when he assumed the throne at Maison Dior, both of which are quite telling of the man and his métier.