pierre bergé

Bergé, Pierre

Pierre Bergé (1930 – 2017) was a French entrepreneur, cofounder of maison Yves Saint Laurent. His talent in management was flanked by his passione for art, music and literature.

Passion for arts

Born on 14th November 1930 in Saint-Pierre d’Oléron, since he was young Pierre Bergé had shown his passion for arts’ world: when he was only 18, after having moved to Paris, he began managing a literary magazine where the best personalities of the time, such as Camus, Sartre and Queneau, wrote. Later he wrote essays on theater and became assistant to writer and essayist Jean Giono.

At the age of 20 he met the painter Bernard Buffet, whom he had a relationship with anche whom he helped in his way to success. Later, his passion for music made him buy and renovate the Parisian Théâtre de l’Athéné – Louis Jouvet, which he managed from 1977 to 1981; during those years he conceived the so-called Lundis Musicaux, which offered a stage to best lyric voices of the time, including the soprano Jessye Norman, whom he discovered and launched. An important recognition of his talent was the appointment to President of the Paris Opéra, by François Mitterand: while he held the position, between 1988 and 1994, new seasons at Opéra Bastille were introduced.

The relationship with Yves Saint Laurent

In 1958 Pierre Bergé met Yves Saint Laurent; they mutually impressed themselves, so they started a long-lasting love story, strengthened by many interests in common and which managed to face crisis and betrayals because of reciprocal esteem and dependence. In the same period a business fellowship was born, which joined a man characterized by the creative inspiration and another one able to administrate success. Four years later, in 1962, the couple founded the fashion house which was to bring them to success, also using the money which Saint Laurent in the trial started against the maison Dior because of his unfair layoff.

pierre bergé
Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent.

In 2002, after Yves Saint Laurent announced he wanted to cease his career and to close the homonymous maison, Pierre Bergé founded the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent, aimed at saving and promoting the heritage of the fashion designer. In 2017, thanks to the efforts of the Foundation, two museums dedicate to the French couturier were inaugurated: one in Paris and the other one in Marrakech.

Furthermore, in 2010, two years after the death of Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Bergé published the book Lettres à Yves, where he honours once again the man he loved forever and tells the world their love story and the way he supported the fashion designer and defended him by his demons.

The institutional activity

In 1973, in order to represent prêt-à-porter fashion designer at Chambre Syndicale de la Mode, he created the Mode et Création group, which he presided over until 1993 and which he included in Yves Saint Laurent, Emanuel Ungaro, Chloé, Dorothée Bis, Sonia Rykiel, Kenzo and Emmanuelle Khanh. Then, in 1986, he founded the Institut Français de la Mode, a training center for fashion professionals. In 1994 he founded the Sidaction organization to support the fight against AIDS. He also donated to the fight against AIDS the proceeds of the Christie’s auction organized in 2009: the sale of the art collection collected with his life partner yielded a return of more than 370 million euros.

The patronage

His patronage made big projects happen in the world of art: in 1988 he supports the purchase of Saint Thomas à la pique by Georges de la Tour from the Louvre Museum; ten years later, in 1998, he financed the renovation of two halls in the London National Gallery, which would assume his name and the one of Saint Laurent. In 1999 he took part to the renovation and organization of the collection in the Centre Pompidou.

In 2011, at the center of Jardin Majorelle – purchased in 1980 together with his life partner and since then such transformed that it became an important touristic attraction -, he inaugurated the Musée Berbére, the first in the world dedicated to Berber Amazigh culture. Moreover, in 2014 he took part to the renovation of Kujoyama Villa in Kyoto.


In 2001, his philanthropic commitment earned him the appointment to Patron of Arts and Culture. In 2015 President François Hollande appointed him Officier de la Légion d’honneur; the following year Moroccan king Mohammed VI gave him the Ouissam Alaouite Order Grand Cross, because of his services to Morocco.

The death

On 8th September 2017 Pierre Bergé died in his house in Saint Rémy de Provence, at the age of 86, after having fought against a long illness.

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