Yves Saint Laurent co-founder Pierre Bergé has died after a long illness, aged 86. The businessman and philanthropist passed away in his sleep this morning at his Paris home.
"It is with immense sadness that the Fondation Pierre Bergé - Yves Saint Laurent, Paris and the Fondation Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech, announce the death of their founding president Pierre Bergé, which occurred on September 8, 2017, at 5.39 am, at home in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. He died in his sleep at the age of 86 following a long illness," read a statement today.
Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent in 1998 - Getty Images
Bergé met Saint Laurent in 1958 and they began a relationship. In 1961, they launched the iconic fashion house together. Although their romantic involvement ended in 1976, Bergé remained by the designer's side until he died of a brain tumour in 2008.
In addition to his work in fashion, he also became known as philanthropist, becoming a vocal and active campaigner for gay rights and AIDS research. In 2015, he was awarded one of France's highest accolades - the Grand Officier of the Ordre national de la Légion d'Honneur.
"He was a magician who made his life and those who he loved a symphony of happiness," former French culture minister Jack Lang said today. "Pierre Bergé was above all a marvellous and loyal friend, who was there to take on all the good fights, the noble causes, in particular to provide the means for research to defeat AIDS."
Francois-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of Kering - the parent company of Saint Laurent - also paid his respects, saying:
"It is with great emotion that I learn of the death of Pierre Bergé, a person integral to the history of the House of Yves Saint Laurent. I will always remember him as a man instilled with a fertile tension between avant-gardism and the will to work relentlessly to inscribe creation in history. From the outset, he wished to preserve all the archives of Yves Saint Laurent's work; an inestimable patrimony that will soon be made available for the public the world over to see in exceptional museums. This man who has just left us was a great cultural figure, and a man with convictions he fought tirelessly to uphold. Pierre Bergé was at the same time a visionary precursor, a great patron, a creative and passionate businessman and a defender of noble and universal causes. He was a tireless patron of young creation, notably through the Andam Association (Association Nationale des Arts de la Mode) he had created - he was also a generous patron of heritage. A man I deeply respect."