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Obituary – Pierre Bergé

Obituary – Pierre Bergé

Farewell, Pierre Bergé (1930-2017)

Avant-gardian. Octogenarian. Fashion visionary. Philanthropist.

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Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent’s long-term partner and the visionary who made Saint Laurent nothing other than sensational, died in his sleep yesterday at his country home in the south of France. He was 86.

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Ex-French culture minister Jack Lang said “he was a true prince of the arts and culture.” Bergé first met the precocious designer Yves Saint in the late ’50s. And while the duo split ways in the 70s, they remained business partners and bffs until Yves died in 2008.

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The pair revolutionized Parisian fashion and originated outré campaigns together, after Bergé encouraged Saint Laurent to set up his own brand in 1961. Yves Saint Laurent was famously photoed naked for the house’s first male fragrance, Pour Homme, in 1971. Wearing nothing but goofball spectacles, Laurent was photographed by Jeanloup Sieff, marking the first time in fashion history that a perfume maker had posed for his own advertising campaign.

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“It was just provocation on the part of Yves Saint Laurent,” Pierre Bergé said in 1997. “The picture didn’t specifically target the gay population, even though it resonated strongly among them. In any case the photo was hardly published at the time. Just barely in the French press. It was only much later on that it became an almost mythical icon.”

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Bergé was also widely recognized for his activism and lofty charitable contributions: in the early ‘90s he founded Sidaction, a fundraising org dedicated to AIDS research, treatment and care. He was also poised to inaugurate two museums dedicated to Yves Saint Laurent in Paris and Marrakech this autumn.

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“Yves and I loved one another: it is important to say that,” Bergé told Witness Programme in 2016. “And we set out to create an important new couture house and we had a magnificent success with it.”

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Images via Guia BesanaJeanloup Sieff

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