PARIS: An Yves Saint Laurent design from the 1960s and 1970s is all but worth its weight in gold today, because his work has seriously increased in value since his death in June.
"Saint Laurent's pieces were never cheap," says Neila Jaziri, who specializes in vintage at her shop on Rue du Mont Thabor. (Her windows tend to be an homage to the designer - this season, a symphony in red wool jersey.) "But since his death, prices have gone through the roof. For example, a great Rive Gauche dress used to cost 700; now it's 1,400."
Cameron Silver, the vintage expert who owns the Los Angeles boutique Decades, wonders if the high prices aren't a result of former Saint Laurent clients' realizing the value of what they own. "More people are contacting us at Decades about his clothes and we are paying more," he says, adding that he just bought what he described as "two major collections."
In Silver's estimation, there have been two waves of interest in YSL. "When Saint Laurent retired in 2002, certain Americans became hip to him and wanted to suddenly buy his vintage clothes," he says. "His death marks the second wave."
Silver expects the YSL exhibit opening in November at the De Young Museum in San Francisco will continue to bolster the designer's legacy in the Western United States. And, in Paris, Christie's has scheduled a sale of the belongings of Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé in February.
While a designer's death usually sparks a sudden, but temporary, increase in prices, Silver stresses that he believes it will be different for Saint Laurent: "He's incomparable to anyone else because he created his own codes. Most young designers today borrow codes."
Back in Paris, Jaziri says that owning Saint Laurent also "fits in with the recent craze of wanting something rare that no one else has."
There is also the myth that lingers, says Karine Berrebi, who stocks vintage YSL accessories at her boutique in the Seventh Arrondissement, Karry'O. "Saint Laurent remains a magic label - ultra elegant and super Parisian," Berrebi says.
Because of the glowing obituaries and stories about his legacy, Marie Rouches senses that "the young have discovered him and have this urge to wear him." Rouches, who owns the Paris vintage boutique La Jolie Garde-Robe, isn't surprised. "He was always so poetic, making women 'fatale' without making them vulgar."
However, Silver doesn't quite agree. "Just because it's Saint Laurent, it doesn't mean it's all good," he warns. "In the 1980s and 1990s, you have to be selective in choosing - it was an uniform for so many women - and there's a lot of 1980s and 1990s!"