Review / ‘Yves Saint Laurent’ (M) *** and a half

ysl2THIS bio-pic traces the progress of a middle-class 18-year-old who became design chief in the Christian Dior salon and went on to create his own label.

Without doubt, YSL (Pierre Niney) was a winner, initially in the game called couture, providing wealthy women with beautiful clothes they wouldn’t get in any shop and later in prêt-á-porter, which anybody with the money could buy and hope they might not see another wearing in the street.

But Jalil Lespert’s film is about more than a bespoke dress-maker’s public life. It illuminates an interesting view of a complex man, certainly gay, possibly manic-depressive, who cavorted among the rich and famous, the bohemian pleasure-seekers, France’s cultural elite and occasionally low-lifes who might provide delights not elsewhere available.

How accurately does it tell the story? We may reasonably assume that YSL’s life-time business associate and bed-mate Pierre Bergé (Guillaume Gallienne), who loaned numerous gowns from YSL’s estate for the film, would have had a hand in monitoring how the screenplay dealt with verity.

YSL’s life combined hard work with sensual satisfactions. The film is even handed about both. The garments are interesting but it’s not a film just for women. Its population of beautiful young women is delectable.

At Capitol 6 and Palace Electric

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