Have you ever wondered about the history of your favorite brands or designers? Then satiate your curiosity as we provide fun facts and information for Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, and Gucci as we talk about their roots and journey over the years.
Yves Saint Laurent
Having shared time with us from Aug 1, 1936, to June 2, 2008, Yves Henri Donat Matthieu Saint Laurent has a colourful history. As a child, he grew up in a villa by the Mediterranean. He was bullied as a child but found his comfort in designing dresses for his mother and two sisters. Over time, his mother played an important role by arranging a meeting with the editor of French Vogue, Michael de Brunhoff, when he was 17.
The editor then introduced Yves Saint Laurent to Christian Dior, where he worked. He studied by Dior’s side and, in return, matured his style and started to turn heads in the fashion industry. After some time, he was called back home to fight for his home country Algeria in 1960. However, he was exempted from joining the army due to health reasons and returned to Paris.
Upon his return, he learned that his job at Dior had disappeared. He sued Dior for breach of contract and was awarded £48,000. This settlement enabled him to open his own fashion house, after which he launched his label in 1966.
In 1983, he became the first living designer to receive a solo exhibition in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and soon became a fashion icon by the 80s. Over time, Yves Saint Laurent succumbed to the addiction to cocaine and alcohol, which caused his style to become stale.
However, in the early 90s, he battled his addictions and was re-discovered since the fashion industry had grown tired of the grunge movement that dominated the runways. By the end of the 90s, he sold his company and netted a good fortune.
In January 2002, Saint Laurent participated in his final show and retired for good. The French president Nicolas Sarkozy appointed Saint Laurent as the Grand Officer of the Legion d’honneur in 2007.
Famous Quote: “Fashion dies, but style remains.”
Born on March 17, 1969, Lee Alexander McQueen was a London-based English designer who had a struggling story. He had five siblings and came out at a young age only to be terribly teased by his classmates. Eventually, he dropped out at 16 and started working on tailoring men’s suits.
Later on, he went on to work with Angels & Bermans to make theatrical costumes. This dramatic clothing style would later become the signature of his later independent work. He received his M.A. in fashion design from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 1992.
Culminating Project of his degree was inspired by ‘Jack the Ripper,’ which was later bought in its entirety by a single stylist. After receiving his degree, he started his own business, focusing on his designs for women. As a result, he became insanely successful.
No less than four years after graduation, he was named Chief Designer of Louis Vuitton, owned by Givenchy. There, he worked as a lead designer but felt creatively constrained. Eventually, he moved on to start his line of fashion.
In 1996, 1996, 2001, and 2003, he earned the British Fashion Council’s British Designer of the Year. In 2001, Gucci bought a 51% stake in Alexander McQueen’s private company, which helped provide the capital for him to expand. He went on to open stores in New York, Milan, London, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.
He did not put much effort into his appearance in his personal life and wasn’t considered a handsome fellow. Over time, his longtime co-designer Sara Burton took over the Alexander McQueen brand. He passed away on February 11, 2010. Later, he was honoured in 2011 by an exhibition of his creation at the Metropolitan Museum of art in New York City.
The famous Guccio Gucci was born in 1881 in Florence, Italy and passed away in 1953. He left Florence in 1897 to settle down in London. He started by working at the Savoy Hotel as a bellhop, loading and unloading luggage for wealthy clients.
As an observer, he learned about their taste in fashion, quality, fabrics, and travelling conditions. After WWI ended, he went on to work for the maker of fine luggage, Franzi.
In 1921, he opened his first Gucci shop by selling only imported leather luggage and leather goods made by a local craftsman. Eventually, he had to open a larger workshop to accommodate his 60 artisans. When leather became scarce, he started using different products such as raffia, wicker, wood, linen, and jute. His wife and children would also often work in his shops.
During WWII, he brought forward the double G symbol combined with the prominent red and green that later became a Gucci signature and the Gucci crest.
After the war, Guccio Gucci distributed the shares of his company to his three sons. Aldo Gucci (one of the sons) started the first of the family feuds by launching Gucci Boutique on his own. Maurizio Gucci launched a legal war against his Uncle Aldo for complete control of the company. Eventually, Aldo was sentenced to a year in prison for tax evasion.
The Gucci loafer, the flora scarf for Grace Kelly, and the Jackie O bag were some of the iconic items for the Gucci brand. In 1953, Gucci opened its first US store in New York and died the same year.
Gucci’s finances were in the red, and the company was bought in 1993, ending any family involvement. The Gucci brand changed hands over the years and saw some good and bad changes. Currently, the brand is owned by French financier Francois Pinault of Kering, who had also bought the Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen brands.
In 2018, Gucci operated around 540 stores. As of today, Gucci has product lines in handbags, ready-to-wear fashion, footwear, accessories, makeup, fragrances, and home decor.
Famous tagline: “Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten.”