the life of the iconic fashion designer

Yves Saint-Laurent: Controversial Until The End

Ana B. Remos

Two films are being produced about the life of iconic fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.


A cinematic battle is brewing around the figure of the legendary fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent (1936-2008). Two films are being produced about his life, and this is creating great controversy. Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent’s partner and sentimental companion has approved one of the movies, but the second film has the support of the current owners of the brand. There seem to be conflicting interests that could prove difficult to solve.

Yves Saint-Laurent

Filmmaker Jalil Lespert is directing the biopic, Yves Saint Laurent, starting French actor Pierre Niney. The film is produced by SND and Universal Pictures International and has Bergé‘s seal of approval. The budget is around 16 million dollars. The script centers on the designer’s life between 1956 and 1970, highlighting his relationship with Pierre Bergé, the businessman behind Yves Saint Laurent’s global fashion empire. The second proposal, rejected by the co-founder of the original label, has the support of Kering, the fashion conglomerate that currently owns Saint Laurent Paris.

Meanwhile, media reports have speculated that M. Bergé is trying to prevent at all cost the screening of the latter film. Directed by Bertrand Bonello, filming will begin in the coming months with a similar budget ($16 million). Europacorp and Mandarin Films are behind this production.

Bergé‘s opposition to the movie is based on the director’s behavior and lack of courtesy towards him. “The least he could have done is to come to see me. He is a talented director, and I wouldn’t have had any reason to oppose his project,” said Bergé. However, it is rumored that this version will touch sensitive aspects of the couturier’s personality, such as his sexuality and addictions.

Yves Saint-Laurent
Pierre Niney as Yves Saint Laurent.

Mandarin Films has stressed the fact that the group that owns the Saint Laurent brand “has given its approval for the rights to use the designs and creations” of the designer. According to the producers, “no authorization from M. Bergé is required to make a fictional film about Yves Saint Laurent“. Legal sources specialized in copyright law have said the notion of moral rights applies to works, not to people. Monsieur Bergé, an influential man, entrepreneur and owner of the newspaper Le Monde, could lose this case, although he could denounce the film if he finds it to be defamatory, or if he believes it infringes upon his private life.

The second film will cover “the period between 1965 and 1976, from the time Saint Laurent left Dior until he founded his own haute couture firm in partnership with Bergé. The actor Gaspard Uliel will play the role of Yves Saint Laurent, and Jérémie Rénier that of Bergé.


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