Pierre Niney to play YSL in picture which is due to start rolling this spring, around the same time as Bertrand Bonello’s rival film on the legendary designer.

Paris-based SND has boarded Jalil Lespert’s upcoming feature capturing the lives of Yves Saint Laurent and his long-time partner Pierre Bergé, the business brains behind the legendary designer’s success.

SND is financing, co-producing and handling French rights and worldwide distribution for the film entitled simply Yves Saint Laurent.

For full production details

“We are thrilled to come on board Yves Saint Laurent and to support Jalil Lespert’s vision and drive on this extraordinary story,” said Lionel Uzan, director of acquisitions and international sales at the M6-owned SND.

Upcoming French actor Pierre Niney, star of I8 Years Old And Rising (J’Aime Regarder Les Filles) has signed to play Yves Saint Laurent. German actor Moritz Bleibtreu is cast in the role of fellow designer Karl Lagerfeld.

The €12 million project, which has been in development for some 12 months and was first announced last March, is lead produced by Wassim Béji of Wy Productions – the production company he co-founded in 2002 with Yannick Bolloré, who also heads up the media activities of his family’s business empire.

It will be Lespert’s third feature after 24 Measures and Headwinds (Des Vents Contraires), starring Benoît Magimel as a father with two young children getting over the sudden disappearance of his wife was released to critical acclaim in France last year – both of which were produced by Wy.

“To tell Yves Saint Laurent’s story is to tell an extraordinary story of success and fulfillment of dreams through hard work, genius and passion. It is larger than life, deeply moving and an exceptional story - yet so universal. It is also a great love story to tell given the unique relationship him and Pierre Bergé shared,” said Lespert.

SND said the picture had received the full support of Bergé as well as the Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent Foundation and PPR, the luxury goods company which owns the Yves Saint Laurent brand.

Bergé said: “Numerous proposals for feature films about Yves and myself have been presented to me. I was never convinced by any of these projects. Jalil Lespert came to see me with his sensitivity, enthusiasm and creative vision. I immediately understood that this was the director capable of telling our story. I said yes.”

Opening on the day Yves Saint Laurent presented his first Haute Couture collection for Dior and also met Bergé in January 1958, Lespert’s picture will chart how the couple went on to found the Yves Saint Laurent Company, one the most famous brands in the fashion and luxury world. 

Bonello’s upcoming picture on the designer, starring model and actor Gaspard Ulliel in the title role, will focus instead on the 1965 and 1976 period of Yves Saint Laurent’s career when he was at the peak of his powers, culminating with the 1976 Russian Collection. The feature, produced by Eric and Nicolas Altmayer’s Mandarin Cinema, was announced last Cannes and is also due to start shooting this spring.

Bergé has made it clear he is not happy with the unauthorised film.