On June 1, 2008, the fashion world lost one of its most prolific and influential designers, Yves Saint Laurent. He was seventy-one years old. During a career that ran from 1957 to 2002, Saint Laurent was largely responsible for popularizing pant suits and trench coats for women, pea coats, safari jackets, tight pants, thigh-high boots, and arguably the most famous classic tuxedo suit for women, Le Smoking suit. Reportedly, Saint Laurent was the first designer to use black models in his runway shows. For many years after Saint Laurent opened his own couture house in 1962, his collections were eagerly anticipated by fashion enthusiasts, who considered his the final word on that season’s style. Saint Laurent’s influence was at its height during the 1960′s and 70′s. His collection of his now vintage wear like his popular 1970′s ties are still sold by enthusiasts in secondary markets such as eBay.
At the time of his death, Saint Laurent owned over 400 trademarks. Many of these trademarks were for variations of the his initials “YSL.” However, trademark registrations were not Saint Laurent’s only interaction with intellectual property law during his lifetime. In 1994, Saint Laurent sued Ralph Lauren in French court for copying a black tuxedo dress that Saint Laurent first created in 1966. A decision in favor of Saint Laurent alerted American fashion designers that research is necessary before introducing designs they believed to be similar to those they had seen in European markets.
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