The Classicist: Dior and YSL in Paris, 1962
In 1962, Esquire magazine sent photographer Jerry Schatzberg to Paris to cover the behind-the-scenes action at the Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent shows, at what promised to be an historic fashion moment. Indeed it was, and Schatzberg's shoot turned out brilliantly; the full results have finally been collected in book form, under the title Paris 1962: Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior, The Early Collections. Schatzberg was no mere paparazzo; a renowned fashion photographer and filmmaker, he's perhaps best known for the cover of Bob Dylan's 1966 album Blonde on Blonde. His journalistic, documentary style ran counter to the usual carefully-posed fashion shoots of the time, which gave the 1962 session added urgency. But first, a little background.
Famed designer Christian Dior had died five years earlier, in 1957. Yves Saint Laurent, only 22 years old at the time, had been named as his replacement, creating a stunning new collection in a matter of weeks. Laurent held the appointment for only a short time, however, as he was soon conscripted to serve in the French army during the Algerian War of Independence. The fragile fashionista lasted less than a month before a nervous breakdown saw him committed to a mental institution. Meanwhile, Marc Bohan had taken over at Dior, leading Saint Laurent to file for breach of contract.
Gallery: Dior & YSL, Then and Now
The 1962 collection established Saint Laurent as a star in his own right. Both he and Dior were well on their way to becoming the megabrands we know today. Schatzberg's cinematic shoot captured all the energy, glamour and gravitas of these icons in the making. 34 years later, in 1996, John Galliano took over at Dior under the auspices of its new owners, luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, re-inventing the brand as the essence of cutting-edge chic. Saint Laurent retired in 2002 and is in very poor health, but his label also continues to win accolades for epitomizing perfect modern style. In 1962, no one could have imagined what the brands would become 40 years later, but it was obvious that these already famous names would live on forever.