01/08/2002 at 01:00 AM EST
Internationally revered French fashion legend Yves Saint Laurent, 65, announced his expected retirement on Monday in Paris. His departure signals the industry's complete shift into the modern era, as it also is the end of Paris's hold on the fickle world of fashion, notes The Washington Post and other style watchers. Saint Laurent was the last of a long line of legendary figures, the late iconoclastic Coco Chanel and Christian Dior among them. "I have chosen today to bid farewell to this profession which I have loved so much," an emotional Saint Laurent told a packed room at his Avenue Marceau salon Monday. "I tell myself that I created the wardrobe of the contemporary woman, that I took part in the transformation of my era," said the designer, sitting stiffly in a black suit. His announcement was met with total silence, reports Reuters, except for the click of camera shutters. Saint Laurent had handed his ready-to-wear collection over to American designer Tom Ford but still rode herd over the house's exclusive biannual haute couture collections. Fashion insiders said Saint Laurent that Ford and his retinue of executives from Italy's Gucci Group (which acquired the Saint Laurent label in 1999) rubbed Saint Laurent the wrong way. Saint Laurent's lover, mentor and business partner, Pierre Berge, told reporters on Monday that Saint Laurent, who suffers from depression, felt increasingly isolated in an industry that he felt placed commerce before art.