celebration yves saint laurent

Celebration: Yves Saint Laurent

It’s 1998 and iconoclastic fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent is preparing the final collection to be produced under his own name. Dubbed “Celebration”, preparations are well underway to both eulogise and honour him, together with a behind the scenes documentary by Olivier Meyrou. However that was 1998 and now over a decade later it is only getting its first cinematic release. -So, what happened to this film in the intervening years?

… (has) legs enough to shuffle into the light and reveal a seamier truth stitched onto a shinier reputation.

As a documentary’ Celebration: Yves Saint Laurent’ doesn’t address the reasons as to its own banishment. However, shot on crumbling videotape, it is a cumulative collection of observations whose mystery hinge on is subject’s very indifference. 

Self-aggrandising himself to be the last, great “couturier vivant”, Yves Saint Laurent leaves any question in a haze of nonchalance along with his dog on the back seat of his car. However, with a cigarette ever perched atop his lip, you gradually start to see that it’s not just the the smoke that is sucking on his emaciated body, but also the real charge d’affaires who is looking on.

Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent’s lover, confidante and carer-in-chief comes across as a volcano-in-waiting. Spewing out ash later over untimely “press intrusion”, ‘Celebration’ ultimately finds its real centre in Berge’s increasingly imminent acts of displeasure. Much like Dr Caligari before him, Bergé continually keeps his talented somnambulist upright and moving, all of which alludes to ‘Celebration’s’ great unspoken question: Is Bergé’ controlling Yves Saint Laurent or is this an act of complicit acceptance by a vain, voluntary dependant? With its slow, droning, iron-lung of a soundtrack and suitably dented ping-pong ball melody, ‘Celebration: Yves Saint Laurent’s’ score is the only thing that leans heavily upon you for an answer.

Similarly studying everything from the shoes upwards, the film goes onto show Bergé’s indifference as mirrored by Saint Laurent’s own languid perch; fingers wrapped around his throat in a reverse-like stricture, cigarette smoke now only escapes where words would have once been. However presented with this silent void, L’ombre that oversees everything eventually cannot deny his own opportunism and it is Bergé who damns himself of any available ambiguity.

So, even though it was denied a proper screening, ‘Celebration: Yves Saint Laurent’ turns out to have legs enough to shuffle into the light and reveal a seamier truth stitched onto a shinier reputation. -Was the film’s outrage ever equal to the offence that is caused to Pierre Bergé? Possibly not, but much like his refusal for the film to be seen or his behaviour it, you can say that narrative lies damned along with his milked racecourse left out in the sun. 

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