A recent article in the Guardian interviewed Madeline Fontaine (best known for her work as the costume designer of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s films: Amelie, MicMacs, A Rather Long Engagement…) about her work on the upcoming Yves Saint Laurent biopic. Surprisingly, her name does not appear in the IMDB listing credits, and I suspect that is partly to avoid any Edith Head/Givenchy misunderstanding (Edith Head received a Oscar for the costuming of 1954′s Sabrina, even though the most spectacular gowns in the film were created by Hubert de Givenchy for Audrey Hepburn.)
In Yves Saint Laurent nearly all the designer dresses are original, borrowed from the YSL Foundation archives. This wasn’t some coup obtained through skilled negotiation, but rather a stipulation set out by Pierre Bergé to protect the image of the house of Yves Saint Laurent. According to Fontaine “he really did not want us to recreate any costumes. Of course, we could not make any alterations to the original pieces either, so we had to cast the models for the fashion show scenes in a very unusual way, by finding models that would fit the dresses.” Reproductions were created only when key pieces were missing, such as a wedding dress from YSL’s spring 1958 collection for Dior.
The film focusses on the years 1958 to 1976, YSL’s most influential period, and is based on a book about Yves St. Laurent by Laurence Benaim (a publication I have not seen and it doesn’t appear to be available on Amazon however, here are some copies available through Abebooks.) A clip you can link to through the Guardian article looks a bit Nouvelle Vague for my tastes, but even if the film is a complete bomb, it would be worth the price of admission just to see the Yves St. Laurent fashions in motion. The film opens in North America on 25 June.