Haute couture designer

In 1938, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé bought the "Château Gabriel" in Bénerville-sur-Mer, where Proust met the publisher Gallimard. As a great admirer of Marcel Proust, Yves Saint Laurent trusted Jacques Grange to decorate his Normandy castle in honor of the author. All the rooms in the villa were named after the characters of "In Search Of Lost Time".

The villa regular clients had their own rooms: Charlotte Aillaud was Oriane de Guermantes, Anne-Marie Muñoz was Albertine, Loulou and Thadée Klossowski were the Verdurins, Madison Cox was Morel, Betty Catroux was Madeleine Lemaire, Yves Saint Laurent was Charles Swann, and Pierre Bergé was Baron Palamède Charlus.

“This is my safe haven between two storms. I come here to recover strength from anxiety”, declared Yves Saint Laurent during a rare interview. Far from high-life, the designer enjoyed spending time at "Château Gabriel" to draw, and pursue his passions for decoration and horticulture. As a recognized patron and parish neighbour, he had partly financed in 1977 the renovation of the Saint-Laurent church of Deauville (particularly the roofing), an effort which was rewarded by Anne d’Ornano, making him Citizen of Honor. In 1988, the “Friends of the Saint-Laurent church” association gave the church a new bell of which Yves Saint Laurent and Anne d’Ornano were named patrons. Today, the small Mont-Canisy church is listed as a Historical Monument.

In September of 2008, Philippe Augier, Mayor of Deauville, and Pierre Bergé inaugurated the Place Yves Saint Laurent in Deauville, at the corner of the Casino and the Printemps store. The event took place in the context of the “Journées du Patrimoine” (Heritage days), and the national theme was “Heritage and creation” which was well fitted to Deauville, as the city has been promoting creativity and arts for over a century.

“The most representative example of this thirst for landscape arrangement, reminiscent of Goethe, the prince of Ligne, and the whole age of Enlightenment, is most likely the Château Gabriel Park, which they covered in incredible crafts. As a huge Visconti enthusiast, and especially of Death in Venice, Saint Laurent liked to think on the terrible fate of Ludwig II of Bavaria. With Pierre Bergé, his fantasies came to life. Pines were planted and a lake was dug, resembling the one in which the king drowned. Another day, Yves, having enjoyed India Song by Marguerite Duras, an entire room was decorated as a replica of the movie set. Another time, returning from Leningrad (the city was still named that way), where they had sponsored the restauration of some of Catherin II’s costumes, the two lovers built a tea house in the castle park on the model of the dachas ordered by Peter the Great on the Carelia isthmus. But still with their personal touch, the logs came from Siberia (Why?), and the stain glass was French, dating back to the 19th century. Their inspiration, nonetheless, was always reminiscent of Visconti…”

Fiona Levis, Author of “Yves Saint Laurent, l’homme couleur de temps”, Editions du Rocher