Yves Saint-Lauren (Niney) was born in 1936 to French parents, in Oran, French Algeria. He was a gifted designer from a very young age and at the tender age of 21 he was elevated to chief designer for Christian Dior following the death of the company owner, of the same name. Following conscription into the French military, to support the war in Algeria, he suffers a mental breakdown and is fired by Christian Dior. It is with the help of his life partner, Pierre Bergé (Gallienne), that he manages to open his own fashion house. The propulsion of Saint-Lauren to head of his own fashion house comes with intense pressure and the strain shows in every aspect of his life.
There is an over riding feeling that if you don’t know the background to YSL’s life then you’re not holding a full hand and it undoubtedly holds back the whole show. It is only 106 minutes long but it feels like 180 minutes which is never a good thing and the final act fails to really develop on the issues at hand preferring to close it off without making too much of what happened next. The performances are fine and would have been a little more enjoyable if the relationships that they had built up were properly closed off but, alas, they are not.
There is an authenticity, to Paris and the style of the times on screen and there is an interesting contrast in the settings when the leads head to Marrakesh to escape the madness. But that being the exception rather than the rule, there is little else of visual enjoyment on show, which is odd given the nature of YSL’s life in designing some of the most beautiful fashion pieces in the history of the industry. A missed opportunity, perhaps, but then you would need to care to really miss out.
Underdeveloped and undercooked, unlike YSL’s mind due to all the drugs, this is one to miss.