Friday, June 12, 2015

Saint Laurent

Gaspard Ulliel as Yves Saint Laurent.

One morning when walking my daughter to school I noticed the theater down the street from my place had this title in the marquee: “Saint Laurent.”

My first thought, of course, was Yves. But a movie about his life showing in a theater that only plays superhero pictures and kids’ flicks? That seemed impossible. There was no poster out front to indicate what movie that title belonged to so I asked the young gal selling tickets what Saint Laurent was about.

She had to look at a screen to read something.

“About a fashion designer,” she said.

Yves Saint Laurent?”

“Yeah. Him.” Like she had no clue who the man was. Kids these days!

It was only playing for one week and I saw it on the last day. I was the only person there so it ended up being a private screening. What a thrill!

Jérémie Renier as Pierre Bergé, left.

Saint Laurent was an interesting movie about Yves’ most creative years, from 1967 to 1976. I thought it was very well cast, with Gaspard Ulliel as Yves, and Jérémie Renier as Pierre Bergé, Yves’ lover and business partner. The movie covers the time Yves had already left Christian Dior and had started his own house and enjoyed tremendous success. It recounts some of the big moments of his career and life—meeting Betty Catroux (Aymeline Valade), one of his lifelong muses and friends, at a disco in the 1960s (he meets his other muse, Loulou de la Falaise, played by Léa Seydoux, later in the film), launching his Rive Gauche ready-to-wear line and boutique in 1966, posing nude in 1971 for the Jeanloup Sieff photo to promote his first male cologne, Pour Homme, and the 1977 release of the scandalously-named perfume, Opium (doesn’t that seem quaint now, that a perfume name like “Opium” could be considered scandalous?). There are also flash-forward scenes to Yves’ later life, Yves then played by Helmut Berger, focusing on the time when Yves and Pierre sold the company in 1993.

Helmut Berger as Yves in his later years, played so well and believably!

Great shot of Yves with his muses. Is that a vintage Van Cleef & Arpels pendant on Betty (right) I spy?

Love this pic of a sultry Léa Seydoux as Loulou de la Falaise, with Yves in the background.

There is considerable champagne swilling as well as drug taking and sex in the movie, which makes clear that Yves was having quite a time living a dual life as a hardworking and very successful fashion designer during the day and a completely out-of-control hedonist at night, with the handsome troublemaker Jacques de Bascher (Louis Garrel) leading Yves into temptation and dangerous drug use at every opportunity. de Bascher was also a lover of Karl Lagerfeld in the 1970s.

Louis Garrel as the foxy and seductive Jacques de Bascher, here seeing Yves for the first time at a disco.

I found the film visually gorgeous, as awash in color as Yves would want it to be! Two of my favorite scenes are at the beginning and end of the movie. The beginning shows the ladies of the atelier sewing the toiles to show Yves and they are such detailed scenes, right down to the stitching, it is like watching a part of 5 Avenue Marceau 75116 Paris, the second half of a two-part documentary on Yves I reviewed in 2011.

The ladies of the workroom perfecting the toiles for Yves to see. Absolutely true to life!

The other scene I really loved was the fashion show at the end, featuring Yves’ landmark collection from the Fall/Winter of 1976 called “Opéras and Ballets Russes.” The clothes in that scene are stunning—intense jewel-toned colors with flashes of shimmering gold lamé. I loved them all!

The fashion show at the end is a delight of color and glamour. One of my favorite scenes in the film!

If you are a fan of fashion history or Yves Saint Laurent I highly recommend the film. I will warn you there is full frontal male nudity and a fair amount of gay eroticism so if that makes you uncomfortable Saint Laurent may not be a film about Yves you want to see. If that’s the case then I would recommend Yves Saint Laurent, which is a two-part documentary, one part is called Yves Saint Laurent: His Life and Times, with terrific interviews with him and about him, and the second part is 5 Avenue Marceau 75116 Paris, mentioned above, which focuses on him and his atelier at work.

Love that the filmmakers spent time showing the amazing collection of objects Yves and Pierre built.

There is a great article over at the LA Times about the creation of the film and about how the filmmakers and costume designer, Anaïs Romand, had NO access to the official archives of Yves Saint Laurent when making the movie, in large part because Pierre Bergé was supporting the production of a different film about Yves. Ms. Romand had to recreate the clothes used for the fashion shows in the film with the help of a private collector of Saint Laurent’s work, as well as her own ideas about it, which makes her costume achievement all the more stunning!

The movie poster.

Let me know if you saw Saint Laurent and if so, what you thought of it!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the thorough review, Jill. I saw a trailer for this film a few weeks ago and I really want to see this. Have a great weekend!

GSL said...

I stopped reading your post after a few paras as I ll definitely watch this on netflix. Saw the interesting doco.
I'll revisit this after viewing to compare notes.
Thanks for bringing this to my attention Jill !

Jill said...

Hi Helen! I'm still surprised the theater near my apartment even showed it at all. I think the lady said they had maybe 5 people total see the film all week. Let me know what you think of it if you catch it! xx

Jill said...

My dear GSL, you stopped reading after a few paras? What? The horror! Oh well, I do tend to go on about things I like. I am curious what you will make of this film. I would like a chance to see it once again so I hope Netflix features it soon! xx

susan burpee said...

Love movies about fashion and the fashion industry. Although I'm very doubtful if thus one will ever make it to Ottawa! And I don't have Netflix. Too bad. The clothes look wonderful.

GSL said...

No silly, I'm just a stickler for going into a movie cold the first time through and anything you reference I'll be looking for...especially from someone with such a keen eye and great taste as you Jill.

rosie said...

Hi Jill,

Saw this on Netflix also - I think about 6 months ago. Pretty good - but some of the scenes were a bit intense. I also love movies about fashion and designers. My favorite movie about a designer is Coco Before Chanel with Audrey Tatou. There was a made for TV movie about Chanel which pretty good. However, Shirley MacClaine was so terribly miscast as the aging Chanel. Shirley was soooo shrill & didn't seem one bit French. The actress who played the young Chanel was perfectly cast.

The best part of this movie was how items like pearls, the little black dress, the camilla flower, etc. became Chanel icons & what they meant to Chanel.

Another recent movie was about Donatella Versace and her brother Gianni. It was a lifetime movie & it was very campy. Not a fan of the Versace brand, though.

Thanks for your coverage of designers and their designs.


Jill said...

Hi Susan, I hope you get a chance to see this movie somehow! I am so surprised it was playing at my nearby theater. Most of the time if I want to see this kind of art house film I have to go to downtown Brooklyn or to Manhattan. What a treat to have it play down the street! xx

Jill said...

Hi again GSL, you know I was just teasing you. I know what you mean about wanting to see a movie with a fresh eye! I purposely didn't look at one review before going to see this. Let me know what you think of it! I don't know when it will be available on Netflix. But surely a Chicago theater will play it somewhere? xx

Jill said...

Hi Rosie! I know both of those movies about Chanel you are talking about! I agree with you 100% about Shirley, why did they even cast her? The younger Chanel was good though. And I loved the movie with Audrey Tatou, it was so well done!

I didn't know about the Versace movie. Gianni and Donatella had a special relationship and bond but I can imagine a movie about them could be campy! I think it is amazing how she stepped up to the plate after her brother's murder but I know what you mean about Versace, the brand. It feels mostly for Hollywood, i.e., stars to wear to the Oscars, that kind of thing. There were a few dazzling numbers by Versace in the punk exhibit at the Met a few years back.

I hope all is well with you! xx

rosie said...

Hi Jill.

In the Versace Movie, I felt Gina Gershon's portrayal of Donatella was campy - maybe over-the-top would be a better explanation.

I am well, thanks. Got back from a trip to Europe last week & am still jet-lagged.

Best, Rosie

Jill said...

Hi again Rosie, Gina Gershon was in it?!? Oh wow, I can just imagine, yeah, she is definitely an over-the-top kind of actress.

A trip to Europe? Oh lucky lady! I hope you had a wonderful time! xx