“I would like to thank all of you who are here, and all of those who cannot be. I shall not forget you.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have brought you here today with a great deal of emotion to tell you some important news concerning my personal life and my work. At 18, I was lucky enough to become assistant to Christian Dior, to succeed him at 21 and to meet my success with my very first collection in 1958, 44 years ago in just a few days. Since then I have lived for my work and through my work. I am very proud that women around the world wear trouser suits, tuxedos, car coats and trench coats. I tell myself that I have created the modern woman’s wardrobe, that I have taken part in the transformation of my times. Forgive me for drawing any vanity from this since I have for a long time believed that fashion’s role was not simply to make women more beautiful but also to reassure them, give them confidence and allow them to assert themselves.
Every man needs aesthetic ghosts in order to live. I have pursued them, sought them, hunted them down. I have experienced many forms of anxiety, many forms of hell, I have known fear and terrible solitude, the false friendship of tranquilizers and drugs, the prison of depression and mental homes. I emerged from all that one day, dazzled but sober. Marcel Proust had taught me that ‘the splendid and pathetic family of the neurotic is the salt of the earth‘.
I did not choose this fatal lineage, yet it is what allowed me to rise up in the heaven of the artistic creation, frequent what Rimbaud called ‘the makers of fire‘, find myself, and understand, that the most important encounter in life is the encounter with oneself.
Even so, I have chosen today to bid farewell to this profession that I have loved so much.”
– Yves Saint Laurent, retirement speech, 2002