Saint-Laurent's work combined graphic boldness, luxury, fantasy, and a odd sense of restraint; Chanel with a blast of Wharolian pop. Rarely was he gaudy and never was he tacky. Instead, he was sleek and sexy in extremis. From the mid-'60s to the mid-'70s, his sensibilities dominated—sensibilities you can still find in every Chanel ad and so many of the greater houses (including his own).
Saint-Laurent's retirement six years ago marked the narrowing of a generation of designers, but it wasn't a surprise. For a life of glitz, periodic excess, and famous friendships, he kept to himself, only poking his head out of his Moroccan idyll to remind us he was there, still Yves. That hadn't happened in years, and it won't happen again.
Photo by Pierre Boulat, via Film Forum.