Yves Saint Laurent was born Yves Henri Donat Mathieu Saint Laurent on August 1, 1936 in Algeria. Yves Saint Laurent attended an haute couture training college in Paris where he won both first and third prizes in an International Wool Secretariat design competition. Due to his success, Yves Saint Laurent was introduced to Christian Dior and became his first assistant. When Dior passed away in 1957, Yves Saint Laurent became the company's artistic director. He remained there until he was called upon to join the French Army during the Algerian war of independence. During his time in the army, Yves Saint Laurent was so badly taunted and teased that he was institutionalized in a French mental hospital for issues related to a nervous breakdown. He underwent psychiatric treatment including electroshock therapy.
In 1962, Yves Saint Laurent was released and formed his own company with business partner Pierre Berge. Yves Saint Laurent went on to become one of the leaders in fashion and was the first designer to use black models in his runway shows. He introduced his first perfume called Y in 1964. This fragrance was the first of many others such as Rive Gauche, Opium and Paris. Opium was inspired by a trip Yves Saint Laurent took to the Far East. He wanted a fragrance which reminded him of Imperial China- oriental, mysterious and heavy. The Squibb Corporation, which owned a majority of the YSL shares, protested the name of the perfume. Due to this, the launch of the perfume was delayed in the US. Once it was introduced, Opium became a best-selling perfume for YSL.
Yves Saint Laurent has become a leader in the perfume industry and has launched several extraordinary fragrances.
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