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Review: Yves Saint Laurent

Frock and role - and it is all about Yves

(15)

    Good fit: Pierre Niney shines in the title role as the iconic but angst-ridden fashion designer
    Good fit: Pierre Niney shines in the title role as the iconic but angst-ridden fashion designer

    As there are only about 400 women worldwide who can easily afford to purchase haute couture, few of us will ever know the thrill of wearing it. But that doesn't make us any less interested in the men and women who create it, as they are by nature fascinating individuals who dedicate their lives to making others look fabulous while battling their own demons.

    Indeed, our perception of those who appear to have it all is often misjudged and the tragic suicide this week of Sir Mick Jagger's fashion-designer girlfriend, L'Wren Scott, is a case in point.

    Superficially, Yves Saint Laurent was another who appeared to be in control of his own incredibly successful life. But Jalil Lespert's biopic portrays a fashion master plagued by depression, self-doubt and drug addiction as a result of his treatment for mental illness.

    Remarkably, Yves's sad reality did not impinge on his ability to create designs that made him one of the most famous names in fashion. And those who love to flick through Vogue will be salivating at the sight of so many glorious catwalk shows featuring original YSL gowns as well as the legendary "le smoking"- his tuxedo for women.

    Hailing from French Algeria, the shy unassuming Yves (captivating Pierre Niney) rises up the fashion ranks at speed to become the head designer at Christian Dior at the age of 21 - and then, after Dior's death, take the reins in a role that brought him fame, fortune and a lot of headaches.

    Army conscription only added to his angst, not least because doing his patriotic duty led to him being fired from Dior, which caused him to have a breakdown. Though this tale may sound rather bleak for fashionistas who want the toile and not the toil, Yves Saint Laurent steers away from anything too tawdry and only hints at the debauchery rather than details it.

    With Yves's surviving long-term lover and business partner Pierre Bergé involved, it was inevitable that the movie would ultimately be about the beautiful people, places and things in the designer's life, even if the real truth was a little uglier.

    But don't let that get in the way of the frocks.

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