Few couturiers were as influential as the great Yves Saint Laurent. He pioneered ‘le smoking’ and ready-to-wear. Drawing inspiration from diverse cultures and contexts, he was a master at telling new stories through his designs. He toyed with stereotypes and reframed the familiar – elevating streetwear, reimagining the peasant blouse as an item of luxury, reinventing traditionally male cuts for his modern woman. Some of his haute-couture collections won rave reviews, while others sparked controversy – but they never failed to stir conversation, inspire trends, and point to the future.
Saint Laurent’s path crossed with that of photographer Roxanne Lowit in 1978. He was unveiling his latest collection in Paris when she first ventured backstage, a newcomer who had just read the instruction manual for her new camera. Thus began a professional relationship – and mutual admiration – that would last for a quarter-century. She captured the behind-the-scenes dynamism at his shows. And when the Metropolitan Museum of Art unveiled a retrospective of his work – the first time it had bestowed such an honour on a living designer – she was there to capture it all as his official photographer.
As Saint Laurent dressed le beau monde, Lowit photographed it. His work was luxe and louche, beautiful and brazen, and she captured his creations as they came to life on the glamorous people who wore his famed label. Through her unique lens, one shares stolen glances and gorgeous glimpses of what can be created by the hand and the eye of a master. Through her images, one experiences the vibrant, visual power of Yves Saint Laurent.
'YSL: The initials evoke allure and sophistication, and this brilliant illustrated portrait of the iconic designer has both'
'Dazzling … [the photos are] perfectly complemented by the contributions by the likes of Catherine Deneuve, Betty Catroux and Lucie de la Falaise'
'A fine slice of fashion history, a peek at the looks and the personality that came to define couture in the last century'
'As one of Yves Saint Laurent’s inner circle, photographer Roxanne Lowit had unrivalled access'
The Sunday Times