Controversy Surrounding Second Yves Saint Laurent Biopic Rages On

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With the success of both Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Tatou’s biopics on the life of Coco Chanel, it wouldn’t be long until films about other famous fashion designers began coming out. This year, not one, but two movies about the life of Yves Saint-Laurent have been released. The first, Yves Saint Laurent, starring Pierre Niney as a young Saint Laurent follows the designer’s rapid ascension to the height of the haute couture scene.

Pierre Niney Yves Saint LaurentPierre Niney plays a young Yves Saint Laurent in Yves Saint Laurent

Pierre Berge, Saint Laurent’s long time lover and business partner, was supportive of the film, lending out “77 vintage outfits from its archives and [allowing the director] Lespert to film certain scenes at its headquarters on Avenue Marceau in Paris.” The film was largely adapted from Laurence Benaim’s biography of the couple’s reminiscences, in a book titled, “Letters to Yves.” Although Berge said “there are details I don’t like,” on the whole he approved of the movie and added, “You have to take the movie as it is - as a whole.”

MORE: Film review of Yves Saint Laurent

So, although Yves Saint Laurent was met with mixed reviews, everyone involved with the film can breathe easy that, ultimately, it had Berge’s seal of approval. However, the second Yves Saint Laurent film has had much more controversy surrounding it. Set later in the designer’s life the film explores the designer’s penchant for casual sex and drugs, as well as his relationship with Jacques de Bascher, who died of AIDS in the early 1980s.

How can we put this lightly? Berge ain’t happy with the second film. Saint Laurent director Betrand Bonello wasn’t allowed to use any YSL clothing in the film, so they had to recreate all the looks themselves. Producer Eric Altmayer doesn’t seem too disparaged though, “We had access to nothing, nothing at all, not even a shirt, so everything you see in the film was recreated…Fantastic work was done.”

Pierre Niney Yves Saint LaurentBerge approves of the first movie Yves Saint Laurent starring Pierre Niney

Berge and Saint Laurent became lovers in 1961, splitting in ’76 but remaining business partners until Saint Laurent’s death from brain cancer in 2008. Bonello’s sexually explicit film, which shows explicit use of hard drugs, including a scene in which the designer’s dog overdoses on pills he eats off the floor while Saint Laurent is passed out, has ruffled Berge’s feathers. He seems to feel as though the film is an attack against him and his former lover and business partner, although Altmayer maintains, “This film was never intended to be against hi. Our ambition since the beginning was to make a film simply of Saint Laurent. The fact there was this second film liberated us from the constants of a traditional biopic, to go deeper into the truth.”

MORE: Pierre Berge "blown away" by YSL movie

Watch the trailer for Yves Saint Laurent:



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