Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Books at Yves Saint Laurent

One of my favorite documentaries is David Teboul's Yves Saint Laurent - 5 Avenue Marceau 75116 Paris which chronicles Saint Laurent's final Spring 2002 collection. It's so interesting to see how everyone at Saint Laurent's atelier, from the designer to his muse to his seamstresses, worked together to bring the designer's vision to fruition. What also struck me was how reverential the employees were towards their beloved couturier. Everybody behaved in a calm, focused, and serious manner. There were no histrionics like you see so often today.

After catching the documentary on Sundance Channel a few years back, I bought the accompanying book,
Yves Saint Laurent 5, avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris , France, which is filled with photos of Saint Laurent and his team hard at work in his atelier. Not having looked at the book in a few years, I flipped through it this weekend, and two things jumped out at me: the stacks of "inspirational" books on Saint Laurent's desk as well as Loulou de la Falaise's amazingly chic wardrobe. I'll cover de la Falaise on Friday, but today I've compiled a list of titles that were photographed on the designer's desk.

As would be expected, many of the photographed books were fashion oriented, including volumes on Vionnet, Lesage, and Chanel. Art was represented too with books on Bonnard and Marilyn Monroe photographer Bert Stern. And in one photo, I even noticed a copy of Nan Kempner's "R.S.V.P". Not surprising, really, as Kempner was a great client and friend of Saint Laurent.

Take a look below to see where the designer found his inspiration. And keep in mind that some of the editions listed below may have different dust jackets than those in the Saint Laurent photos.

Lesage (Universe of Fashion) by Lydia Kamistis

Le Temps Chanel by Edmonde Charles-Roux

Height Of Fashion, Roman Alonso, editor

Madeleine Vionnet by Betty Kirke. A revised edition of this out-of-print book will be released in September.

Marilyn Monroe: The Last Sitting by Bert Stern

Bonnard (Masters of Art) by Andre Fermigier. (It's hard to see which Bonnard book is in the YSL photo, so I'm simply guessing it's the book by Fermigier.)

Maharajas' Jewels by Katherine Prior.

Louise Dahl-Wolfe: A Retrospective by Vicki Goldberg.

Le Roman de La Rose by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun. For an English language version of this medieval classic, try The Romance of the Rose (Oxford World's Classics).

R.S.V.P.: Menus for Entertaining from People Who Really Know How by Nan Kempner.

Yves Saint Laurent atelier photos from Yves Saint Laurent 5, avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris , France by David Teboul.


  1. very interesting. thank you for sharing.

  2. Thomas1:26 PM

    I have the book Yves Saint Laurent by Jéromine Savignon- brilliant !!- beginning with his first show, and going forward from there - One of the interesting details, if one looks very closely at the hand written seating diagram for the first show, one sees a seat reserved for J. Mack Robinson( M. Robinson)- the Atlanta businessman who backed YSL and eventually brought him to the US

    1. Thomas, I need to add the Savignon book to my wish list. I think it's fantastic that J. Mack Robinson was his original backer. A little surprising perhaps, but terrific nonetheless.

  3. Wow! You have raised sleuthing to a new height. I have seen that documentary several times
    and hadn't noted the books. Yet as you say, it is marvelous to see the good manners shown by
    everyone in YSLs atelier, the focused attention, the lack of histrionics. Whenever I need a respite
    from the madness, I screen that excellent documentary.