Where you with him the moment he died?
– Of course. I had decided to go to Montreal for a weekend to visit an exhibition when I got a call from the doctor. He said that it was a question of maybe one or two weeks. Before and after that, I sat by his side.
He had brain cancer. Did Yves Saint Laurent know that his death was approaching?
– Not at all. He never knew. The doctor told me that there was nothing more to do and we mutually decided that it would be better for him to not know. You know, I have the belief that Yves would not have been strong enough to accept that.
Would Yves Saint Laurent hate the fashion industry of today?
– Of course! Yves retired at the right time and he died at the right time. I am sorry to tell you that, but it is very difficult for me to understand what has happened to the fashion business. It is all a question of money and marketing. We never talk about talent – it’s not the point. We only talk about sales. Yves Saint Laurent would have hated that.
Mr. Bergé, is it true that you met Yves Saint Laurent for the first time at Christian Dior’s funeral in 1957?
– Well, you can see us both in a picture that shows the mourning guests, but in fact I met him on February 3, 1958 during a dinner organized by Marie-Louise Bousquet. I had come to congratulate him a few days after his first collection at Dior was presented. We were living together six months later.
What would you say was his biggest achievement in fashion? Especially in the ’60s, Yves Saint Laurent and the whole company around him really pushed into a new direction.
– Saint Laurent is, along with Chanel, the most important fashion designer of the 20th century. It was a different time of designers, a time of great masterminds. I’ve seen wonderful dresses by Balenciaga and Christian Dior – but the difference between those fashion designers and Chanel and Saint Laurent is that they stayed on the aesthetic field. Saint Laurent and Chanel went to the social field – they changed the lives of women around the world.
Because of what exactly?
– Chanel gave liberty to the women; I think Saint Laurent gave them power. We can see that today, everyday.