It always intrigues me when a film is made (all the money, time and effort that goes into that) and then sits on the shelf for a long time. You really have to wonder about the business behind the movies. This was the case for this 74 minute documentary about iconic French clothes designer Yves Saint Laurent.
The film was commissioned by Saint Laurent’s business partner and former lover, Pierre Bergé. Director Olivier Meyrov (Parade) went about making the film which was filmed over three years and then Bergé did not want it released. Reason given was that it showed St. Laurent as being frail and was too revealing. Finally it was released at the end of 2018.
Considered by many in the know as the last great French couturier, Yves Saint Laurent made a big mark on the fashion industry. Even those not too concerned with fashion know the name. A documentary like this really gives you a window into the man while he was creating what was to be his last show.
Filmed in both black and white and colour, Celebration is an intimate portrayal of the fashion genius. You really see the relationship he and Bergé had. Neither of the two are your average, run of the mill type guys. Both had strong personalities and wanted their visions put into action. That is crystal clear here. They formed a perfect business partnership in that Bergé did the business side leaving the creative one the space to produce his influential designs. At times during the film you think that Bergé is being too hard on Saint Laurent. Rude and demanding. But also see that softer side; the side that showed he truly loved him.
Over the last few years of his life (Saint Laurent died in 2008) the designer became weaker and weaker and probably as a result was more and more of a recluse. Shying away from interviews, cameras and events. This documentary affords fans and the curious a chance to see what was actually going on. You see a different man than we had been shown up to this point. Many scenes show him to be someone who rarely spoke. Long silences occur when the camera is on Saint Laurent.
Besides a portrait of these two men, you also get an idea of what went on around them to produce the legendary collections. The seamstresses, cutters and models all become part of the picture created here. Those who were often unsung (obviously don’t mean the models) are shown as vital cogs.
An important time in the fashion world is captured here. It was not only Saint Laurent’s last show, but the end of an era in that YSL was sold to Gucci making it the last French fashion house owned by the individual designer.