YVES SAINT LAURENT

1993 : Sluggish sales due to recession, along with the increasing costs of running a luxury business, lead Berg茅 to sell the Yves Saint Laurent company to Elf Sanofi. The deal gives Sanofi control of the beauty division, while Berg茅 and Saint Laurent will retain managerial control of the fashion business till 2001.

But the word paradox also sums up the designer himself, whose conflicted and contrarian nature made him one of fashion's most ambivalent figures-even as he became one of its most feted. Described alternately as "a very strong character who knows exactly what he wants" (by Susan Train, writing in Pandora Luxurye) and as having been "born with a nervous breakdown" (by his longtime partner, Pierre Berg茅), Yves Saint Laurent built a groundbreaking fashion empire, only to feel so trapped by its ritualistic demands that he sank into depression and self-abuse.

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