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June 23, 2017

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A glimpse of his shadow – 'Yves Saint Laurent'

Wrapping a white sash belt around a model's midriff, a young man reshapes a normal black dress with materials that just happened to be at hand in a workroom under the watchful, surprised gaze of Christian Dior.

This is definitely one of the most eye-catching and impressive scenes in the biopic "Yves Saint Laurent," directed by French actor-turned-director Jalil Lespert. It shows a prissy, doe-eyed young man express his talent and sensitivity for design with an arrogant, solipsistic attitude, which pretty successfully represents the genius of this precocious designer thanks to the delicate touch of the main actor, Pierre Niney. However, this kind of "creative mode" of the late fashion maestro is not depicted very much later in the movie.

This movie starts with Saint Laurent's sudden rise as the youngest head designer at the house of Dior, focusing on the story of how he built up his own brand with Pierre Berge, his business and romantic partner at that time, played by Guillaume Gallienne. The budding business venture endures several ups and downs as the designer fulfills his dreams and carries out his design ideas with huge success, all the while suffering from depression and mental breakdowns.

Although it seems like the movie gives some insight into the private life of the late fashion icon, there is nothing to give a really in-depth and complete picture of Saint Laurent's passion and dedication to the fashion industry, nor does the film ever express his interior monologue about the struggles in his professional life as well as his personal life.

For people who barely know this designer — perhaps they only know him by name — this movie does give some clues about the man; however, for those who already know him and are eager to learn something more, it may be a little disappointing.

However, the movie does present a rather compelling romance between the designer and his life-long business partner, Berge. It is quite interesting to see how the chemistry between these two characters grows, decays and then becomes something beyond a love-hate relationship in one fashion show after another throughout the years.

With the real Berge's voiceover serving as narration, the story shows glimpses of the late designer life from his twenties to his forties from the perspective of a third person, keeping audiences at a distance while they follow the designer's rise, losses and gradual decline as he dedicates his life to the pursuit of his own aesthetic. All in all, it is a glamorous movie, as elegance can be seen everywhere — from the delicate wardrobe of each character to the movement and tone of the performance as well as the detailed film composition. Even in the later scenes when the designer loses himself in cocaine and free-love psychology, it still holds a refined, albeit decadent, aesthetic.

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