Yves Saint Laurent’s husband Pierre Bergé dies after half a century of working together

Katharine Swindells September 8, 2017
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Pierre Bergé, longtime partner of Yves Saint Laurent and co-founder of the YSL fashion brand, has died aged 86.

Bergé died early this morning in his home in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France, following a long illness, the Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation reported.

French President Emmanuel Macron said: “A whole part of our collective citizen and artistic memory dies with Pierre Bergé.

Macron praised Bergé’s ability for creating “beauty and excellence”.

Bergé and Saint Laurent in 1992
Bergé and Saint Laurent in 1992 (PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images)

Bergé supported Macron in the French Presidential election earlier this year, leading to claims that the candidate was a puppet of the “rich gay lobby.”

Former French President François Hollande said Bergé was “an exceptional man of conviction who defended the idea of equal rights for all”.

Left-wing MP Jean-Luc Mélenchon praised Bergé’s contributions to AIDS research, the fight against racism and supporting the arts, saying that he was someone who “did not devote his life to his money”.

And Jack Lang, the former French culture minister, said Bergé was a “true prince of the arts and culture”.

Bergé and Saint Laurent met in 1958, just after Saint Laurent had been made head designer of the House of Dior aged just 21.

They began the Yves Saint Laurent YSL fashion house in Paris in 1961, and rapidly gained popularity throughout the 60s and 70s.

Although the couple separated in 1976, they stayed business partners and good friends.

Saint Laurent died of brain cancer in 2008.

Bergé and Saint Laurent had entered into a civil partnership just days before Saint Laurent’s death, and at the funeral Bergé spoke emotionally about their relationship.

“It’s going to be necessary to part now. I don’t know how to do it because I never would have left you.

“Have we ever left each other before?

“Even if I know that we will no longer share a surge of emotion before a painting or a work of art.

“But I also know that I will never forget what I owe you, and that one day I will join you under the Moroccan palms.”

He added: “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.”

This autumn, Bergé had been expected to inaugurate two museums dedicated to his partner in Paris and Marrakesh.

Marrakesh was where the two had spent much of their romance. They bought a home together there in 1966.

Saint Laurent had found fashion inspiration in the colours of Moroccan nature and clothes, and would go there to work feverishly before fashion shows.

In 2010, Bergé wrote the book Lettres à Yves, which in 2014 was translated to Yves Saint Laurent: A Moroccan Passion.

Bergé was a passionate gay rights campaigner, particularly surrounding HIV and AIDS, and also owned French LGBT magazine Têtu.

In 1994, he helped create Sidaction, an organisation which fundraised for AIDS treatment and research. He was the association’s president from 1996 until his death.

He was also active in French politics, prominently advocating for left-wing political candidates including François Mitterrand in 1988 and Ségolène Royal in 2007.

Related topics: AIDS, dior, Europe, fashion, France, Gay rights, HIV, Macron, Paris, pierre berge, yves saint laurent

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