Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé had a partnership that is cited as the model of what a designer's relationship should be with his or her business partner. Bergé's deft handling of everything from business relationships to lining up the models before fashion shows allowed Saint Laurent to focus on being a creative genius.
But this duo's tale was also a great love story: They were romantically involved for almost 20 years after meeting in 1958, and though Berge chose to move out of their shared home in Paris (he moved one block away), they remained daily companions until the end of Saint Laurent's life. Filmmaker Pierre Thoretton examines the couple's relationship in "L'Amour Fou" (or "Crazy Love") a documentary screening later this month at the Tribeca Film Festival.
While the film, and especially its interviews with Bergé, has a gray feeling to it, the tone is kept colorful with stills and never-before-seen film footage of Saint Laurent, Bergé and the designer's inner circle of Betty Catroux, Lulu de la Falaise and Catherine Deneuve, among others. (Read StyleList's recent interview with Deneuve, in which she discusses whether she was -- or wasn't -- a muse for the designer.)
One of the first of these film interludes shows Saint Laurent examining the portrait Andy Warhol did of him. The designer compliments Warhol, who is sitting at a table next to him, on not putting his signature glasses in the portrait. In the background, there is a man tinkling on the piano; when he walks across the room, it turns out to be Mick Jagger, but the rocker's star power barely registers in this room full of giants.
For the art-minded, looking at pieces you've only seen in books mixed among Saint Laurent's personal effects is exhilarating, and seeing what goes into a grand scale auction is fascinating.
While not as lively as "The September Issue" or as grandiose as "Valentino: The Last Emperor," for fashion fans this film is a must-see. Much of what Saint Laurent contributed to fashion -- trouser suits, car coats, the safari look, Le Smoking, his ultra-posh Russian collection (for which, de la Falaise shares, he created an astounding 400,000 sketches) -- and his bouts with drugs, alcohol and depression, is already well publicized. But "L'Amour Fou" provides intimate personal insight from the one who knew him best.