Battling YSL Films Could Be the Source of Fashion’s Next Big Lawsuit


Yves Saint Laurent biopic image

There’s nothing we love more than a good fashion industry lawsuit (and by “good” we often mean ridiculous).  With the dust finally settled on that whole red soled-shoe debacle between Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Louboutin, YSL might be facing its next battle — but this time it’s internal.

Two different biopics on Saint Laurent — the man, not the brand — will go into production at the end of this year, but only one of them has the blessing of Pierre Bergé, Yves’ longtime partner.  Bergé is actively backing a film to be directed by Jalil Lespert,  starring Pierre Niney as the designer.  But while Bergé holds the moral rights to Saint Laurent’s estate, the second film has the support of Francois-Henri Pinault, head of Kering (formerly PPR), which owns Yves Saint Laurent, the label.  As such, Pinault has granted his film’s director, Bertrand Bonello, the right to use the YSL logo and dresses in Kering’s possession.

With both movies slated to be released in 2014, Bergé has threatened to do whatever he can to get the other one banned, and has made overtures about a lawsuit.  But though Kering controls Saint Laurent, the brand, Bergé is the one with access to the archives.  By controlling such an extensive intellectual resource, perhaps he won’t even end up having to sue.  As the head of the Pierre Bergé-Saint Laurent Foundation, which conserves an enormous Saint Laurent archive, including 20,000 designs, accessories, and sketches, any film Bergé favors will be the one to access to the good stuff.  And with both movies focusing on Saint Laurent’s early years, it’s the archives that are needed most.