Pierre Bergé, co-founder of Yves Saint Laurent as well as the designer’s partner in love and in business, died today in his Saint-Rémy-de-Provence home. He was 86 years old.
Bergé’s contributions to the worlds of fashion, philanthropy and business were the stuff of legend. Credited with expanding the YSL brand from haute couture to ready-to-wear, he also ensured his partner’s legacy was carried on following the designer’s death in 2008, famously guiding the brand through multiple successors: Tom Ford, Stefano Pilati, Hedi Slimane, and its current creative director, Anthony Vaccarello.
Bergé and Saint Laurent married in a civil union a year before the latter died of brain cancer at 71, even though they had ended their romantic relationship decades earlier.
Bergé’s influence on French politics and progressive policy, too, cannot be overstated. He was one of French President Emmanuel Macron’s most fervent supporters during the early days of his candidacy, prompting the French president to tweet this morning: “He was on the side of artists, the oppressed, the minorites. In Pierre Bergé disappears a guide, an activist; a memory of the century.”
Among his lengthy list of contributions to French culture, he founded France’s leading AIDS research and support foundation, and saved both the Jardin Majorelle and iconic French newspaper Le Monde from untimely destruction. He was preparing to open two archival museums in honor of Yves Saint Laurent, one in Paris, the other in Marrakech—a city beloved by both Bergé and Saint Laurent.