Friday, June 30, 2006
I met Yves in 1976. Oddly, we met in a gay bar. He could switch from one sex to the other, almost religious-like. Instead of a date, he asked me to tea the following day. I was so intrigued, and the irony of meeting someone in a gay bar was too much, so I said yes.
When we had tea the next afternoon, he wasn't feeling well. He was depressed about his Russian collection, and could not produce ideas fast enough. He began to stare at me in my black turtleneck. I remember he said I seemed Russian to him as well, everything took on a tone of his collection, regardless of the actuality. Eventually, I had to drag the designs out of him. That was years later. Pick up a pencil, and the miracle of the moment makes him study my face, and a dress follows. Suddenly, without plan, pure creation, a surge of thought. Finished, he lights a smoke, and reviews. No one is more surprised than he, no more amazed, the happiest I've ever seen him. Giddy, almost. Then immediately he must stop drawing and do something else.
In those days everything was a time of crisis. He is less scared now that we're together, but he was always afraid about his own fears. Afraid that his fear was unjustified, and the overwhelming aspect of it just tortured him. Day after day, his fear overflows. He's very self-critical, and he hurts himself. He tortures his own mind over those unjustified worries, and he always has.
We were at ease with the tradition, and yet bucked it. We were in love with everything that was a little bizarre, dangerous, black leather-like...we were players in our own minds. Seducers. Passionate, intellectually sophisticated, but also telling big common jokes, the punch-lines of which everyone knew.
He always used to quote, "I prefer honor to honors" and it really is true. He's the most honorable man I've ever met. That's why we're still together.
"The style is what counts" he says. "Fashion fades, style remains". His style will always remain. The classics: the bow in the back, the color connections, the check patterns. The classic safari coat, and the color hued ruffled blouses. The trousers. Always the trousers. He will be remembered forever for that simple act of making women's trousers fashionable again. That's because his style originated in the early 60's with men's clothes. He always used to say that men's clothes gave them earthly confidence, but women did not have such confidence. So he transferred this self-confidence to women in the form of figure, in the form of trousers and suits, and an air of equality. I've worn his pants almost every day since.
To him, fashion is a change in attitude. His favorite attribute of men and women is confidence. He idolized Coco Chanel. Marilyn Monroe. Rita Hayworth. I think that's why he was drawn to me. I attempted to be all three rolled into one for him, and I added in my own weary fearful outlook on life. He saw himself as a woman, in me. Perhaps he saw through the outside, into my inner Marilyn? He could always lean on my arm, looking back at me. Observing the way I stood, the way I moved. The fact that he enjoyed it made me so very happy. I've never had a man just look at me and take it all in. Not sexually, not with any agenda, just pleasing to the eye and palette. That was Yves. He was the only one who could look at me like that.
He once told me "to reach light, you have to go through the clouds", and when he started Saint Laurent, there were so many harsh years of difficulty. Burgeoning couturiers are in high supply. He stood out as a man who truly understood women, inside and out. And now, we've moved on, and we've found each other and success. It's been such a short time that we've been together, but I've loved every second of it.