Yves Saint Laurent stripped bare in Berlin

15th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

BERLIN, Feb 15, 2007 (AFP) - A biting documentary about the twilight years of Yves Saint Laurent's haute couture fashion house screened at the Berlin Film Festival on Wednesday after a court blocked its release in France.

BERLIN, Feb 15, 2007 (AFP) - A biting documentary about the twilight years of Yves Saint Laurent's haute couture fashion house screened at the Berlin Film Festival on Wednesday after a court blocked its release in France.

The French designer bid a graceful "adieu" to fashion after 44 years in 2002 with a show at which Catherine Deneuve sang and other famous clients and muses wept in the front row.

"Celebration" by Olivier Meyrou goes behind the scenes to show a much less elegant world in which Saint Laurent walks around in a daze.The designer, who is credited with putting women in tuxedos, peacoats and sheer chiffon blouses, is losing his sharp eye and depends on his helpers who treat him like a child.

Shoes don't fit, silver dresses turn out grey and the seamstresses gossip but not as much as his close associates.

The camera captures it all, including staff members conferring about which dress house model Laetitia Casta should wear "because her breasts look too big in that one".

The film includes footage of an interview with a journalist in New York in which the famously tortured Saint Laurent declares that he has decided to "be happy and to work with joy."

Pierre Berge, his former lover who ran the business side of the fashion house, then tells the same journalist that this will never happen, nor does he want it to.

"He will never be rid of his demons, never be happy, and so much the better. He is like a sleepwalker and we must not wake him up. I set in place all the right conditions to keep him in this trance," he says.

At a birthday lunch, Berge makes a toast in which he tells the designer and his guests that fashion has destroyed him.

After the film was completed in 2001, Berge went to court in France and managed to prevent its commercial distribution. Meyrou was also ordered to pay a fine.

The director's previous films includes gritty documentaries about apartheid and the gay world.

He said in a press statement here that he wanted to show the secret life of Saint Laurent with the film which was originally called "5 Avenue Manceau" after the Paris address of the fashion house.

"He is a unique artist whose personality and life are, however, a mystery."

In the end only Loulou de la Falaise, the designer's discreet long-time collaborator, and the clothes themselves emerge from the picture unscathed.

Meyrou includes long scenes of "the little hands," as French seamstresses are known, struggling to pleat a velvet bodice or moaning as they pin a dress but they always manage to get it right.

The documentary is screening in the Panorama fringe section of the 57th Berlinale which runs until Sunday.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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