EXCLUSIVE: French director Bertrand Bonello has signed to direct a biopic on legendary French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, Paris sales outfit Films Distribution and production companyMandarin Cinema have announced.

“The film will focus on Yves Saint Laurent’s most emblematic years, from 1965 to 1976, the year of his Russian collection, considered by many as his most influential. This was anincredibly important period for him both creatively and personally,” says Eric Altmayer, co-head of Mandarin Cinéma alongside his brother Nicolas.

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The company was at Cannes last year with Xavier Durringer’s The Conquest, about now fallen French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s victory in 2007.

Thomas Bidegain, who co-wrote The Prophet and Rust and Bone with Jacques Audiard, is writing the screenplay alongside Bonello. The picture is Bonello’s first feature since House of Tolerance (L’Apollonide), which screened in competition at Cannes last year.

International casting is currently underway for the French-language €15 million production, due to start shooting this summer.

“We’re involved at the development stage and looking for pre-sales, co-producers and even financiers at Cannes,” Films Distribution co-chief Nicolas Brigaud-Robert.

Films Distribution has a proven track record in selling fashion-themed features and documentaries.

It handled sales on Anne Fontaine’s Audrey Tautou-staring Coco Before Chanel , Rudolphe Marconi’s Lagerfeld Confidential and Pierre Thorreton’s documentary Yves Saint Laurent, L’amour fou.

“Following our work on L’amour fou, we felt there was strong demand for more of Yves Saint Laurent’s story to be told,” says Brigaud-Robert.

He notes the production has been endorsed by the YSL brand, which has granted the production access to the designer’s sketches and vintage outfits.

“This is a real plus when it comes to selling and then distributing the film. It means future partners can use the YLS logo on their marketing material,” says Brigaud-Robert.