Pierre Bergé, the former life and business partner of Yves Saint Laurent, passed away today at the age of 86. A patron of the arts, an astute and sharp businessman, and a champion for gay rights, he was a pioneer of the fashion industry since launching the fashion house with the eponymous designer in 1961. Anthony Vaccarello, the brand’s artistic director today, remembered Bergé in a statement, commenting that the house’s late co-founder had “welcomed me with kindness. His advice and his support have always guided me.” CEO and President of the company Francesca Bellettini also paid tribute, offering: “Mr. Pierre Bergé was always ahead of his time. He believed in the power of creativity. He believed that art, fashion and culture could change lives and the way we live.”