Très Bien, YSL

Legendary Paris fashion designer, Yves St. Laurent, called it quits this week, closing the fashion house he began some 40 years ago.

He should be remembered for his startling ability from a young age to realize, in fashion, a revolutionary idea he noted in a prepared text: "For a long time now, I have believed that fashion was not only supposed to make women beautiful, but to reassure them, to give them confidence, to allow them to come to terms with themselves."

Indeed, this master risk-taker of haute couture not only defied traditional women's roles - he took high fashion off the runway and made it appealing as ready-to-wear.

St. Laurent also fused modern art and fashion from his beginnings at the House of Dior and rightfully lays claim to the pantsuit, the miniskirt, the kaftan, and tuxedos for women. He took cues from Russian peasant skirts, skimpy sweaters, and biker jackets, and put them on Paris runways.

But can French fashion, and the meticulously crafted $10,000 individual haute-couture garments St. Laurent was so famous for, survive?

St. Laurent himself says he's emerged from his experience "dazzled but sober." The fashion industry has, too. The courtly days of Paris high fashion haven't provided enough cash for the conglomerates who now rule the industry. St. Laurent's independent spirit will be missed. But the fashion transformation he presided over, thankfully, lives indelibly on.

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