“L’Amour Fou” – French for “mad love” – is a documentary portrait of the late, great fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner in business and life, Pierre Berg. The film is a huge hit with the style-conscious set, for it offers a dazzling look inside the many lavishly-decorated homes these two men shared, in Paris, Morocco, and Normandy.
To view the trailer, go here.
The mad love of the title refers to many things: Style followers’ adoration of the legendary YSL for his endlessly inventive talent, which lit up the fashion world through the latter half of the twentieth century… YSL’s love for his possessions, which Berg describes as “his children”… Berg’s love for YSL, which endured through thick and thin… and YSL’s love for his many pets.
The designer was a Dogster. He was also a kind, sweet, poetic soul who once said, “Without elegance of heart, there can be no elegance.” How true.
Sadly, the splendor that surrounded him couldn’t free YSL from the depression he struggled with for most of his life. Watching the glamorous locales in which he lived and worked is a feast for the eyes, to be sure. But it’s also a sobering reminder that owning the most gorgeous properties and possessions the world has to offer – houses, art, antiques, furniture, custom clothing – can’t do anything to guarantee happiness.
Luckily for YSL, he enjoyed the constant devotion of Berg – and the unconditional love of the many dogs who shared the couple’s splendidly elegant life together.
Although several Chihuahuas appear with YSL in various extravagant venues, the breed dearest to this designer’s elegant heart was clearly the French Bulldog. He had several of them, one after another.
His Frenchies all had the same name: Moujik. Like the K9 royalty he was, Moujik Le Premier (Moujik the First) had his portrait painted by none other than Andy Warhol. The little dog also went out nightclubbing with YSL and his circle of friends. Those friends received holiday greeting cards made by the designer (like this one at right, from 1991, whose charming text translates to, “Him, that’s Moujik, my dog, painted by Andy Warhol. Me, I’m Yves Saint Laurent“).
It’s very sad to watch YSL evolve from a shyly smiling man-boy to a somber, stone-faced older gentleman. As Berg explains, Saint Laurent was happy only twice a year: When he was soaking up the well-deserved applause of spectators at his twice-yearly fashion runway show. Immediately thereafter, the depression overcame him again.
To my eye, YSL appears quite happy when he’s in the company of a Frenchie, as the photos above attest. But there’s only so much a little Frenchie can do when confronted by the giant, looming spectre of depression.
In one of the movie’s more poignant shots, we see the designer standing against a wall, looking lost in terribly troubled thought. Standing a few feet away from him is Moujik IV; the dog faces away from the camera because he’s focused so intently on his master. This loyal, loving little dog is clearly doing all he can to engage YSL and put a smile on his worried face. But his efforts are to no avail.
That, to me, is one of the saddest moments in this exquisitely sad love story, which is well worth seeing.
Have you seen “L’Amour Fou”? Please share your thoughts in the comments.