Pierre Bergé, 86, died in his sleep at his home in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence on Friday following a long illness — myopathy, his foundation said in a statement.
The French businessman and cultural philanthropist was for decades a dynamic driving force in French style and the arts and leaves a considerable footprint behind in every single, somewhat intertwined.
Early on, he dreamed of being a writer and was a close friend of Jean Cocteau and Jean Giono but rather became a fashion executive.
For years, he was the diminutive but powerful presence in the side of his long-time life and business partner, Yves Saint Laurent. Bergé and Saint Laurent met in 1958, soon after the latter had been appointed head designer of the home of Dior, and after that, their domestic and professional lives were connected. Saint Laurent and Bergé formed their own haute couture house in 1961, and he steered the company into modern significance amid the burgeoning French prêt-à-porter business with the launch of profitable Saint Laurent Rive Gauche in 1966 and after that new extensions into perfume and beauty. Bergé protected the delicate creative genius in life and business, and following Saint Laurent’s departure in 2008, dedicated himself to protecting their creative legacy.
In 2004, Bergé established the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent. Its mission, through conservation of its extensive, 20,000-item design archives and tens of thousands of materials and sketches, is to protect that legacy, arrange exhibitions around the world and encourage educational and cultural functions. In his later years, Bergé committed himself to that heritage as well regarding the arts (theater and especially the Paris Opera, where he was appointed president by friend and former French president Frédéric Mitterrand).
Under his auspices the Fondation also supported several literary prizes, including the Prix Jean Giono. Eventually, he did meet his original desire to become anbsp;man of letters himself, as the author of a variety of novels, essays and monographs on Saint Laurent. The elegiac Lettres à Yves, a slender, poetic quantity of rhetorical letters written after Saint Laurent’s passing, is a tender and moving glimpse into Bergé’s deep joy and loss.
In 2009, audiences lined up for days to see Christie’s auction of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé’s personal effects and life of collected furniture and artwork. Their sumptuous rue de Babylone apartment has been disassembled and recreated at the Grand Palais, and the 733 lots netted almost half a billion dollars. From the ensuing documentary, L’Amour Fou, he narrates the profoundly sad billet-doux and elliptical look at their life and work collectively.
Bergé life’s work could be said to function as Yves Saint Laurent — the man, the firm, the artist, the heritage. Of this, he had been a vigilant and outspoken guard. When a competing pair of dramatic biopics came out in 2014, by way of instance, the Fondation endorsed the reverential versionnbsp;whereas Kering, the luxury conglomerate that currently owns the current incarnation of the fashion brand which Yves constructed, affirmed the edgier and less-flattering, peak-hedonism interpretation. However he was also outspoken on several political problems, from LGBT rights in France (where he had been a fierce advocate) to what he saw as vulgar incursions on style’s hallowed ground. “They will kill couture,” he famously said of the 1990s demonstrations after LVMH hired designers John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, who attracted hype and spectacle to the standard French couture runway.
Regrettably, Bergé died on the eve of the Fondation opening two museums which are arguably the culmination of his life’s work. One in Marrakesh, a milieu of Saint Laurent inspiration since 1966, and the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris, inhabiting the historic hôtel particulier in 5 avenue Marceau, which was the couturier’s long-time headquarters and studio. Both will start in October and should cement Pierre Bergé as a national treasure along with his beloved Saint Laurent.
Courtesy: The Globe And Mail