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June 2, 2008
Saint Laurent designed from afar

Associated Press file photo

A call from the newspaper on Sunday afternoon alerted me that designer Yves Saint Laurent had passed away at age 71 after a yearlong battle with brain cancer.

Sadly, I didn't have much to contribute to his obit:

I never met him, never saw one of his shows, never owned a YSL original.

Those honors went to fashion writers with global connections and socialites and celebs with deep pockets.

However, I did look through tons of images that moved immediately after his death was announced, and it's pretty amazing the impact Saint Laurent had on the fashion industry. (The one shown was taken on Nov. 1, 1965, and features Saint Laurent with actress Shirley MacLaine.)

The Associated Press tracked down Pierre Berge, Saint Laurent's close friend and business partner for four decades.

Here's what he had to say:

"(Coco) Chanel gave women freedom," and Saint Laurent "gave them power." This, of course, in reference to Saint Laurent's bold move to re-introduce pants into women's wardrobes.

Saint Laurent, along with Chanel and designer Christian Dior, pretty much endowed Paris as the fashion capital of the world.

In Sacramento, about the only YSL brand you'll find is fragrance and cosmetics. Of course, the Gucci Group took over the Saint Laurent fashion house in 1999, so if you've got an original, guard it with your life.

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