Yves Saint Laurent: Muses Through the Years
It’s no secret how pivotal the Yves Saint Laurent women have been to the brand’s DNA. There have been so many key figures that flocked the designer through the years. The common thread? Every Yves Saint Laurent muse is cool, dynamic and somewhat bohemian. While some have been more idolized than the others, they all have been an endless source of inspiration.
Victoire Doutreleau was a classic French beauty and a former Dior girl, who was often criticized for her conventional looks and petite structure. In 1962, when Saint Laurent branched out with his debut solo show, Victoire was the one to open for him.
Saint Laurent found a close friend and confidante in actress Catherine Deneuve. The two met when she visited his atelier to pick out a dress to visit Elizabeth II, the Queen of England. Their friendship was bolstered after he created the vinyl trench coat for her movie Belle de Jour, which cemented her status as a fashion icon.
Next to come into Saint Laurent’s fold was Paloma Picasso, the youngest daughter of artist Pablo Picasso. She was one of the first to own vintage pieces, from the 1940s. Saint Laurent brought this vintage style to life with his Spring 1971 couture collection called ‘Forties’. His modern take on history went on to impact the fashion world.
Betty Catroux, better known as “Yves’ sister”, was an androgynous figure who shared the same sinuous physique as him. She was the catalyst that popularized his menswear collection. He designed the first tuxedo for women the same year he met Betty. He said, “She’s perfect in my clothes!” The two would often appear together wearing jumpsuits or safari ensembles.
Loulou de la Falaise was the one with an eclectic vision and bohemian allure. She moved to Paris in 1972 to help Saint Laurent with his business. This partnership continued for almost 40 years and is said to have a lasting impact on the label. The New Yorker described her as “the quintessential Rive Gauche haute bohémienne”
The couturier also found a muse in Marina Schiano, a former model who went on to become the director of his New York operations in the 1970s. She is said to have one of the most extensive archives of original Saint Laurent pieces.
French singer Slyvie Vartan was of the original “Ye-Ye Girls” for whom Yves Saint Laurent designed a number of stage outfits. The one that stood out was a gold jumpsuit for her Olympia concert in 1972.
Supermodel Laetitia Casta was the designer’s last muse. And her inimitable walk, sporting roses for his Spring Summer 1999 couture wedding collection, was unforgettable. In 2018, current creative director Anthony Vaccarello brought back Casta, to be a part of his Spring campaign.
When Hedi Slimane took over the label in 2012 as the creative director, Danish model Freja Beha Erichsen was chosen for the campaign, to embody its new rocker-chic image. Even Vaccarello couldn’t help but include her for his Spring Summer 2019 campaign.
In 2013, American singer songwriter Sky Ferreira became the new ‘It’ girl, starring in Yves Saint Laurent’s Pre Fall campaign, before which she was also photographed as part of Slimane’s Music Project. There were other big names attached to this music project too – Courtney Love, Marilyn Manson, Kim Gordon and Ariel Pink.
In 2013, British model Cara Delevingne became Slimane’s muse and appeared in ready-to-wear and beauty campaigns. She was also the face of Slimane’s last haute couture collection with the house in 2016.
After Slimane’s exit, it was Anthony Vaccarello who took over and he made his #forevermuse Anja Rubik the face of his Spring Summer 2017 campaign.
In 2018, Vaccarello made actress Zoë Kravitz the new recruit of his Spring campaign – her devil-may-care vibe was a perfect match.
Vaccarello’s Fall 2018 campaign revealed, daughter of former supermodel Cindy Crawford, Kaia Gerber as the new face. Needless to say, the freshly minted supermodel made headlines for all the right reasons.
This year, it was supermodel Amber Valleta’s turn to shine in the spotlight as the quintessential Saint Laurent woman. She became the face of Vaccarello’s Spring 2019 campaign, along with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Mathilde Henning and Rebecca Leigh Longendyke.