Former Yves Saint Laurent partner Pierre Bergé dies

Pierre Bergé, the former life partner and long-time business partner of Yves Saint Laurent, and a patron and lover of the arts and fashion, has died on 8th September in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, aged 86.


Pierre Bergé - AFP

"If Pierre Bergé didn't exist, you'd have to invent him." This was how Yves Saint Laurent described Pierre Bergé at the end of the show for his first collection on 29th January 1962.

Pierre Vital Georges Bergé was born on 14th November 1930 in Saint-Pierre d’Oléron, France, and spent fifty years of his life alongside Yves Saint Laurent. He was his confidante, his protector, the bulwark of his professional life, and after Yves Saint Laurent's death on 1st June 2008, Bergé kept his partner's memory alive through his label's creations.

Bergé and Saint Laurent founded the Maison Yves Saint Laurent in 1962 and never left each other's side, in private life and on the catwalks, both respecting each other's roles, one the designer, the other the businessman. They made Yves Saint Laurent a global benchmark in the world of luxury and haute couture, steering the label onward despite financial difficulties and the designer's own health problems, which led to his retirement after his last haute couture show on 22nd January 2002.

Both men shared a great passion for art, and over the years they built up a majestic collection, which was sold to Paris' Grand Palais in 2009 for nearly €375 million.

Pierre Bergé's involvement in fashion was not confined to Yves Saint Laurent. He was elected President of the French Fashion Union Chamber in 1974, and in 1986 he created the French Fashion Institute (IFM), making it a hub for education and expertise dedicated to fashion and textile industry professionals.

Pierre Bergé also took a keen interest in the publishing world and was never shy about his political inclinations, supporting over the years various French presidential candidates: François Mitterand, Jacques Chirac, Ségolène Royale and recently Emmanuel Macron. He was also an advocate of gay rights and was involved in the fight against AIDS, as a co-founder of the French Sidaction organisation in 1994.

In 2001, Pierre Bergé was honoured as a national patron of the arts and culture, through the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, established in 2004. He worked tirelessly to perpetuate the name of Yves Saint Laurent and to mark the significance of his creations for France’s cultural heritage, his last effort being the establishment of two museums dedicated to the designer: one in Paris, at the former premises of the YSL fashion label - now the foundation's headquarters - and the other in Marrakech, at the Villa Majorelle, owned by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé.

Translated by Nicola Mira

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