“I UNDERSTAND THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT ENCOUNTER IN LIFE IS THE ENCOUNTER WITH ONESELF.” – Yves Saint Laurent. Film of the Day: L’amour fou.

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Pierre Thorreton’s remarkable documentary on the life and love of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge, L’amour fou (2010), begins when Saint Laurent announced at a press conference on January 8th 2002 that he was retiring. He did so with the style and grace characteristic of one who had dominated the fashion world for nearly 50 years. He thanked Christian Dior; he thanked Coco Chanel. He credited Catherine Deneuve with being a lifelong muse. He spoke of his demons; the private battles of one both passionate and driven and shy and reclusive; he spoke with the humility seemingly characteristic of his nature.

“I’ve known fear and terrible solitude,” he said. “Tranquilizers and drugs, those phony friends. The prison of depression and hospitals. I’ve emerged from all this, dazzled but sober.”

Did he speak of Pierre Berge? Perhaps.

But the conference clip ends with a statement of dedication to selfhood; a statement which echoes through the film as you watch a life and love unfold; a statement which echoes through the viewer long after they have stopped watching. A statement, also, that perhaps seared the heart of Berge, but a statement whose truth, for all the love in the world, cannot be denied. Indeed, no love can truly flourish without it:

“I UNDERSTAND THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT ENCOUNTER IN LIFE IS THE ENCOUNTER WITH ONESELF.”

After decades of work, encouraged, managed and partly driven by Berge, the Socratic injunction ‘Take care of yourself’ was clearly not lost on Saint Laurent.

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Saint Laurent and Berge co-founded Yves Saint Laurent Couture House and became lovers in 1961. They separated amicably in 1976 but remained lifelong friends and business partners until, a few days before Saint Laurent’s death from cancer in 2008, the two were united in a Pacte civil de solidarite (same-sex civil union).

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In his eulogy to Saint Laurent, Berge reflected on their life together:

“I remember your first collection under your name and the tears at the end. Then the years passed. Oh, how they passed quickly. The divorce was inevitable but the love never stopped.”

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Pierre Berge on his relationship with Saint LAurent.

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by Dixie Turner