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The Weinstein Co. Nabs U.S. Rights to Yves Saint Laurent Biopic

The deal continues Harvey Weinstein's love of all things fashion; director Jalil Lespert's film is one of two feature projects in the works charting the life of the legendary French designer.
Pierre Niney stars as Yves Saint Laurent in Jalil Lespert's biopic of the designer.

In a fitting buy, The Weinstein Co. has acquired U.S. rights to French director Jalil Lespert's biopic of famed designer Yves Saint Laurent.

The Wy Productions film stars Pierre Niney as Saint Laurent and Guillaume Gallienne as his longtime business and personal partner Pierre Berge and was co-written by Lespert and Marie Pierre Huster. Lespert's film will be shot in part at the designer’s atelier in Paris.

TWC, which owns Project Runway, is a natural home for the biopic, considering fashion is a favorite subject for Harvey Weinstein. In 2007, he purchased and attempted a revival of Halston, the famed clothing label started by late American designer Roy Halston Frowick in 1968. Weinstein also is married to British designer Georgina Chapman.

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“Yves Saint Laurent’s unmatched vision, ambition and business savvy continue to spark intrigue in the eyes of the world," Weinstein said. “The personal and business relationship shared between him and Pierre Berge only added further depth to his story. We feel that Jalil Lespert’s film will perfectly capture these combined elements.”

It's not the only Saint Laurent biopic in the works. Director Bertrand Bonello is preparing his own film starring Gaspard Ulliel and Jeremie Renier and produced by Mandarin Cinema. The two projects are not connected.

Lespert, who made his film with the blessing of Berge, said TWC was the perfect partner to bring the film to American audiences. "YSL’s story is a ‘bigger than life’ type of story. It is also one of the few subjects which is ‘so French’ and, at the same time, internationally appealing," he said.

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In January 1958, a 21-year-old Saint Laurent was unexpectedly called upon to oversee the great Paris fashion house established by the recently deceased Christian Dior. All eyes turned to this very young assistant as he presented his first haute couture collection for Dior.

During the highly successful and groundbreaking show, Saint Laurent met Berge, patron of the arts, future love of his life and lifelong business partner. Several years later, they launched the Yves Saint Laurent Co., which became one of the most famous brands in fashion and luxury. Despite his own doubts and demons, Saint Laurent, fostered by Berge, managed to turn the sleepy world of fashion upside down.

Flush from the box-office success of Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook and Escape From Planet Earth, the Weinstein Co. has acquired several prominent projects in recent weeks, including the Nicole Kidman starrer Grace of Monaco.

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The deal for U.S. rights to the Saint Laurent biopic was negotiated in Los Angeles by Weinstein Co. COO David Glasser and Michal Steinberg on behalf of TWC with Lionel Uzan at SND Groupe M6 and Nigel Pearson at Loeb & Loeb LLP on behalf of the filmmakers. 

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