An Interview With Pierre Thoretton, Director of the Yves Saint Laurent Documentary

Photo courtesy of IFC Films

Yves Saint Laurent once claimed that, "fashions fade, style is eternal."

Without YSL the world of style would be deprived of tuxedo dressing for women, the safari jacket and most importantly, ready-to-wear.

But rather than highlight Yves' unsurpassed influence in the world of fashion, one filmmaker created a stunning portrait of not one, but two men devoted to women's design, art and each other.

We sat down with first-time filmmaker Pierre Thoretton, who revealed at a press screening that the initial purpose of the film was to introduce the world to Yves' homes and art collection that he shared with Pierre Bergé -- his partner in business and in life. But Thoretton found the footage to be boring, and turned his lens on the intimate world the two shared. What he captured was a rare glimpse into the life of a man that not only collected magnificent works of art, but was a true artist himself.


StyleList: Who in the world of fashion is comparable to Yves?
Pierre Thoretton: Historically, it's complicated. Before Yves, it was Coco Chanel and following Yves there have been people with a lot of talent. I think they are the only two people in the history of fashion. You know, before I did this film I knew nothing about fashion. They really revolutionized fashion for women. I think that Yves with his haute couture really did a social service.

StyleList: What have you learned from making this film?
PT:
A lot of things. To work hard. (laughs) Everything I know about fashion today I learned while filming. It's a very tough and cruel medium. Even contrary to what people image [about fashion, that] people in it are happy, they live under excruciating pressure.

StyleList: What were your motives? What did you want to say?
PT:
What I wanted to say is what I look for, what I search for. A filmmaker isn't there to sell messages – once you start selling messages it turns into propaganda, and that's not my thing. I was searching for answers to questions I ask myself, mostly about life in general. Well there are two [questions] really: how to resist the challenges of life while being able to continue a love story. And the second one is when bereavement happens, how to deal with it. Because aside from extraordinary circumstances, say a car accident, there is always one of the two left behind.
An Interview With Pierre Thoretton, Director of the Yves Saint Laurent Documentary

Photo courtesy of IFC Films


StyleList: Sometimes I found myself wondering if this was really a story about Yves or Pierre, I wanted to ask about why you chose to interview others rather than just Pierre.
PT:
Most of the people have been asking the reverse – why weren't there more interviews of the outside people. I could've chosen to do that or just Pierre, but Betty Catroux and LouLou de la Falaise were both people who were a part of Yves' intimate life. They would go see him, sit at the edge of his bed, and drink coffee while they were visiting. And they're the only ones. They're bringing a testimony that even Pierre couldn't provide.

StyleList: What do you think is Yves' greatest contribution? What about Pierre's?
PT:
I think what Yves brought to humankind was his unconditional and unlimited love for the freedom of women. And Pierre through his relationship with Yves contributed to the protection of men and of homosexuals.

StyleList: I realized that each home was a different phase in their lives. And it was great way to move the plot. Which home did Pierre have the greatest reaction to?
PT: In fact, [the homes were] the spinal cord of the film. I needed to lean on them for the making of the movie because each house was a part of that cord. Of course, homes are the most private thing you can have – it was something that they owned. It's theirs. But to answer your question, it was the home in Marrakech

StyleList: Could you talk about your decision to only briefly mention Yves' iconic designs like the Smoking and instead consume the viewer with the art?
PT: The [art] collection is something that belongs to him. Fashion is something that is his – but he puts it out there for others.

StyleList: I noticed that it rained quite a bit during filming. Can you talk about the difficulty of filming in the rain?
PT:
It rained and rained but I loved it. I love rain, and I like snow, but I love rain because when it is raining, things are in reverse. The reflections of the houses are in reverse. Physiologically it says something. I think with water we have the same relationship – and it's a strange thing – where it's almost like when you're in the desert and you see mirages appear during great heat.

StyleList: As a fashion writer and art enthusiast I learned a lot. The most touching moment for me was the scene with the wedding dresses. Was there any footage that was especially touching to you?
PT:
All of it. I think that difficulty is one of the things that is marvelous in our humanity and what we can lean on. I actually think hardship is a crutch we can lean on. Without hardship there is no reason to do anything. Otherwise man would not have dug tunnels in mountains.

"L'Amour Fou" opens May 13 in NYC, and May 20 in Los Angeles and in select cities nationwide.

An Interview With Pierre Thoretton, Director of the Yves Saint Laurent Documentary

Photo courtesy of IFC Films