Leo Fashion Idol: Yves Saint-Laurent


August 1, 1936 Oran, Algeria 11:15 am

Few gentlemen have been as influential in 20th century fashion as Yves Saint-Laurent. Born in Algeria, Saint-Laurent moved to Paris as a teenager to work for the house of Christian Dior and soon after started his own house YSL.

In fashion he blazed the path for many of the greatest trends of the past half-century. He was perhaps the first to begin to incorporate androgynous, and even overtly masculine, elements into womens wear. Blazers, vest, safari jackets and trousers were incorporated into his styles with saavy and flattering adjustments for the female form. In the early 60s, this was both socially and politically daring, though this was of secondary concern to the designer. While adapting menswear and street-wear for his chic female clients, Yves perfected his best known and most famous look, Le Smoking, a tuxedo for women. Skinny pants, a white shirt and a fitted blazer, the look has been re-created myriad times.

Putting aside for a moment the staggering accomplishment of sylishly merging menswear into the female wardrobe, and let’s focus on another trend he started. Today it is accepted that many designers use young actresses and socialites as muses for their work. The popular high end label Marchesa, is even named after the socialite who inspired the designers, Marchesa Casiti. In the early 20th century, however, there was a much firmer line between couturiers and their customers. Yves Saint-Laurent, however, sought inspiration any way he could find it, from the art he adored to the young aristocrats he encountered, some of whom became his celebrated muses. This was the early stage for the merging of art, celebrity, fashion, and socialites which has all but overwhelmed modern pop-culture. It is surely not a coincidence that the chicest tote bag on Robertson Blvd and 5th Avenue for the past 2 years has been the YSL “Muse” bag.

We have, of course, many aspects in his birth chart to thank for these many gifts. He was born with the sun, Mercury and Venus in Leo, lending him a solidarity of purpose and skills. It is likely that he knew his talents from an early age and never considered another career. He has Mars and Pluto conjunct in Cancer, trine Saturn in Pisces. This many aggressive, masculine planets in emotional water signs, are probably accountable for his troubles with mental illness, but their harmonious position to one another indicates the ability to perservere as well.

The moon in Capricorn is the most important part of his chart in terms of fashion. Leo/Capricorn people are a gifted bunch for they combine the sheer willfullness and creativity of Leo with the measured, hard-working, business-saavy of Capricorn. A funny feature of Capricorn is that it is a feminine sign, as all Earth and Water signs are, meaning that natives are more introverted and reactive. Yet in astrology, Capricorn has rulership over big business, finance, power, reputation and career, all thoroughly masculine spheres in the modern collective consciousness. Capricorn, as such, is a thoroughly unique combination of masculine and feminine energies. This was clearly the energy that YSL was tapped into as he sought to integrate menswear into the female wardrobe with style and simplicity.

Jupiter in Sagittarius is the other major energy that Yves used in his work. Jupiter is the planet of good luck and one should always look to its placement by sign for inspiration in their life. Saggitarius is the sign of travel, adventure, distant lands, foreign countries and people, sports, and religion. Yves found his life away from his homeland of Algeria, first in Paris and then in Morocco. The Sagg energy tends to favor casual and whimsical when it comes to fashion, shunning structure and constriction in favor of color, embellishments and comfort. It should be no surprise then that among the other accomplishments he is respected for, was starting one of the first ready-to-wear lines by a major designer, his “Rive Gauche” label, which succeeded in bringing fashion into the realm of comfort (Sagittarius) and practicality (Capricorn). This is again a major precursor of the modern sportswear movement. His safari themed collections also reflect this adventurous and exotic Sagittarius energy. His designs bore even more Sagg energy in the form of the ethnic details and embroidery he used, inspired by his travels and his home in Africa.

Headlining the ready-to-wear movement, indroducing masculine elements into the mainstream for women, incorporating ethnic detailing, merging socialites and fashion, being the first to break down barriers by using black models in his runway shows, Yves Saint Laurent has left an incredible legacy in the fashion community. Though he no longer designs, YSL is still alive and lives in Morocco. And like fashion, he has had a lifelong passion for astrology.