Watching this after the death of fashion visionary Yves Saint Laurent imbues it with even more pathos. The sadness, the exhilaration of the shared success of both Yves Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé, the relapses and the recovery; everything is subtly brought to our attention by first time director, Pierre Thornton with his Yves Saint Laurent | L’Amour Fou.

This celebratory and very intimate biopic of the fashion industry icon is released on DVD on 21st November, recounted through nostalgic archival footage of Yves Saint Laurent and his muses, Betty Catroux and the late Loulou de la Falaise, alongside touching recollections by his lover and business partner, Pierre Bergé, reflecting on their fifty years together.

A beautiful tribute to the biography of Yves Saint Laurent through a very candid insight into his turbulent private life and seemingly invincible relationship. Fittingly, Loulou de la Falaise speaks movingly about Yves Saint Laurent’s and Pierre Bergé’s relationship.

As Yves Saint Laurent himself quotes Marcel Proust, ‘the splendid and pathetic family of the neurotic is the salt of the earth.’

This moving documentary shows Yves Saint Laurent’s rise to legendary status but also shows the stress that success on that scale causes. Yves Saint Laurent’s incredible talent is justly celebrated while we also learn of the flipside; the nights spent in clubs with Betty Catroux; the intensity of creating 140 designs literally over days; the pain that Pierre Bergé felt at Yves Saint Laurent’s betrayal. Yet even when he in the end moved out, it was merely to the hotel at the end of the street, such was his loyalty.

The title tells an emotional tale of passion for art, for fashion and for each other. Bergé remained fiercely loyal to his partner, both in romance and business, through their five-decade-strong relationship, dealing with the depressive tendencies and psychotic episodes until Yves’ death in June 2008. A thoroughly dignified Pierre Bergé decided to donate their beloved art collection in a momentous Christies auction following his inconsolable loss just days after their Civil Union ceremony. Throughout the film, we see footage of the professional assessors and packers undertaking the Herculean task of carefully cataloguing and boxing up the seemingly endless amount of art pieces for the auction. When the sale finally arrived it was a day that was astonishing on all accounts: a world auction record for the most valuable private collection ever sold; the highest sale total for any auction in Europe; a world record for the most valuable private Impressionist and Modern art collection sold at auction, a world record silver sale, a world record 20th century decorative arts sale, and numerous new artist records were broken during the three days of auctions. An unbelievable £307 million were raised in total with the proceeds proposed for the creation of a new foundation for AIDS research.

Yves Saint Laurent | L’Amour Fou is out in stores on DVD from 21st November 2011.

Words by Anna Bang

All images Pierre Boulat courtesy of Association Pierre & Alexandra Boulat

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anna bang, Betty Catroux, Loulou de la Falaise, Pierre Bergé, Pierre Boulat, Pierre Thornton, Yves Saint Laurent,