Fashion leader Yves Saint Laurent dies

June 1, 2008 at 8:11 PM
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PARIS, June 1 (UPI) -- Algerian-born fashion giant Yves Saint Laurent, who championed the pantsuit for women, died Sunday in Paris, officials said. He was 71.

The Pierre-Berge-Saint Laurent Foundation, which announced his death, did not disclose a cause of death, The International Herald Tribune reported.

Saint Laurent took the fashion world by storm in 1958 when, at age 21, he broke out as the successor to designer Christian Dior. Besides the pantsuit, he also popularized peacoats, safari jackets, trench coats, leopard prints, chic beatnik and peasant-inspired lines, the newspaper said.

He opened his own fashion house in 1962 and his stunning evening wear was sought by the rich and famous -- such as Catherine Deneuve, Paloma Picasso, Lauren Bacall, and Marie-Helene de Rothschild.

While he once said he put "all my dreams" and "everything I love" into his "rich peasant" collection of 1976, Saint Laurent also said his role as a couturier was to "make clothes that reflect our times."

"I'm convinced women want to wear pants," he said.

Saint Laurent was born in Oran, Algeria, to a father who was a wealthy lawyer and insurance broker and a mother who expressed her own flair for style, the Herald Tribune reported. A quiet child, he eschewed following his father into the practice of law, instead finding himself drawn to designing clothes, first for his mother.

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