Yves Saint Laurent, or known by the initials YSL, was born in Algeria in 1936. At age 17, he left for Paris to show Michel de Brunhoff, director of Vogue, his drawings. Several of his drawings were immediately published. After a short time in fashion school, de Brunhoff introduced Saint Laurent to Christian Dior where he would work until Dior's death in 1957. Saint Laurent took over as art director upon Dior's death presenting his own line under Dior that year. The line received a Neiman Marcus Oscar.
He was drafted into the Army in 1960 (Algerian War of Independence) and when he returned from service in 1962 he set up his own fashion house. In the following six years, YSL created iconic pieces like the reefer jacket, the jumpsuit and the sheer blouse still worn today. He is credited with creating the first women's tuxedo. He was the first French couturier to come out with a full prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) line and the first to use ethnic models in his runway shows. In January 2002, the designer announced his retirement and passed away in 2008. He is buried in Marrakech, Morocco in the Majorelle Gardens on property he owned with his partner (and business partner) Pierre Berge.
Yves Saint Laurent's first women's perfume, Yves Saint Laurent Y, was launched in 1964. YSL fragrances have been made in collaboration with some of the finest perfumers including: Ralf Schweiger, Olivier Cresp, Jean-Claude Ellena, Pierre Bourdon, Anne Flipo, Dominique Ropion, Olivier Polge and Carlos Benaim.
In 1977 YSL released Opium for Women. It caused quite a stir with its controversial name and there were accusations that Yves condoned drug use. A group of Chinese Americans actually formed a committee called the American Coalition Against Opium and Drug Abuse and demanded a name change and a public apology. With all of the publicity and its gorgeous Oriental spicy scent, Opium became a best selling fragrance.
In 1983 Paris was released. Named after the city that Yves adored, Paris is a romantic floral fragrance (referred to by Tania Sanchez in Perfumes: The Guide as a "brilliant, beautiful monster").
Numerous other fragrances have been released over the years and in 2011 La Collection debuted. This line of eight fragrances for men and women commemorates a half-century of perfume making.