Saint Laurent’s Pierre Bergé Has Passed Away


The fashion world awoke to the sad news this morning that Pierre Bergé, the former lover and business partner of Yves Saint Laurent, had passed away at age 86.

Bergé met Saint Laurent in 1958, when the latter was in charge of Christian Dior. They began both a personal relationship and a professional one, with Bergé helping found and launch the house of Yves Saint Laurent in 1961. Though they split as a couple in the mid-1970s, the duo continued as business partners, with Berge acting as CEO of the couture house until 2002, when it closed.

The importance of the partnership between Bergé and Saint Laurent cannot be stressed enough. While Saint Laurent is lauded as one of the most creative and lasting couturiers of the 20th century, widely credited with rise of luxury ready-to-wear, his success was largely built on the business acumen of Bergé. It was the ideal merger of art and commerce—a perfect balance between a designer who pushed the envelope with clothing, and a CEO who knew how to navigate the fickle, ever-evolving apparel market.

But Berge had a life, interests, and accomplishments outside of YSL. He founded or co-founded three publications (Globe, Courrier International, and Têtu). He was a supporter of gay-rights, and helped the fight against AIDS through organizations such as Act Up-Paris, Sidaction, and in 1993 he became a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. He was also an avid patron of the arts. In addition to being a fine-art collector, he was a supporter of the opera, briefly holding tenure as president of the Opéra Bastille, as well as being the honorary president of the Paris National Opera.

Of course the house of Saint Laurent will be his most lasting legacy, not only because of his love and loyalty for the business he helped build, but also his influence on it. This morning, upon learning of Bergé’s passing, current artistic director Anthony Vaccarello released this statement:

“It is with a deep emotion that I have learned of Pierre Bergé’s passing, he welcomed me with kindness since my first day at Saint Laurent. His advice and his support have always guided me. I am infinitely sad that he will not be able to attend the opening of the two museums in Paris and Marrakech that he cared about so much. A great figure in French culture has left us.”

Bergé is survived by his husband, Madison Cox, whom he married earlier this year.


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