Pierre Bergé was a truly great Fashion Icon and a strong advocate of LGBTQ Rights who gave away much of his fortune to HIV research. He was the main force the behind the success and image of the House Of Yves Saint Laurent.
Bergé had a huge influence on France’s cultural scene, but he is most noted as the longtime romantic and business partner of designer Saint Laurent. Their relationship was the subject of several books and films.
In 1961, Saint Laurent and Bergé founded their famous fashion house, with the bold Bergé taking care of the business side, and the quiet Saint Laurent designing clothing that defined French style in the 1960s and 1970s.
Bergé was an impassioned book and art collector, with one of the planet’s greatest private art and rare books collections. He also worked tirelessly and funded for Gay Rights and other Human Rights campaigns. He supported Act Up-Paris and helped found of the HIV/AIDS association Sidaction, becoming its president in 1996, a position he held until he passing. Sidaction is one of the main organizations fighting HIV in Europe.
Highly, unabashedly political, Bergé was an adviser and supporter of the late French Socialist President François Mitterrand and continued to back other Socialist candidates. He campaigned early for Emmanuel Macron, who was elected President in May. Bergé also expressed concern about the decline of power in the Socialist party.
“A whole part of our collective citizen and artistic memory dies with Pierre Bergé. He had a genius for creating beauty and excellence wherever he could.”
As a rebellious youth, Bergé quit school early determined to make his mark in the cultural world. He was a totally a self-made man who, after growing up poor, ended up having the world’s most valuable art and books collections. When he moved to Paris, he found work selling antique books, scouring bookstalls along the Seine for treasures, and developing and encouraging a network of influential friends.
When he was 28-year-old, Bergé met Saint Laurent, who was six years younger. They began a relationship that would last the rest of their lives, first as a friendship, then a romance, then a business partnership. When Bergé met Saint Laurent, the talented young designer had been named the main designer at the House Of Dior. Saint Laurent’s first collection made him a star, but when Dior dropped Saint Laurent a few years later, Bergé decided the pair would start their own label. They made it into a Fashion Empire.
Saint Laurent suffered from profound depression and Bergé drove the business, ran the households and cared for him. Saint Laurent in 2001 wrote:
“Everything I didn’t have, he had. His strength meant I could rest on him when I was out of breath.”
In 2008, Bergé and Saint Laurent married a few days before the designer died of a brain tumor. He was 71-years-old when he was taken.
Berge decided to sell off their vast book and art collection, donating the money to the Bergé-Saint Laurent Foundation For HIV/AIDS Research.
This year, two museums dedicated to their life and work opened in Paris and Morocco, where they kept a exotic home.
In March, Berge married the American Madison Cox, one of the greatest garden designers ever, and now Vice-President of the Bergé-Saint Laurent Foundation.
Bergé was 86 -years-old when he left this word yesterday, following a long illness.