In a revealing interview in The Advocate, Tom Ford finally talks in print about his time as the lead designer of Yves Saint Laurent. It was after Gucci acquired the struggling couture house. Ford took the reigns and turned things around.

But Tom says his time there was a nightmare and that Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Berge treated him terribly. He says that Saint Laurent was “evil.” It is no secret that Yves suffered from major substance abuse issues and his bouts with mental illness were well-documented. But Tom isn’t willing to write off Yves’ behavior as the result of many years of drug abuse.

“I don’t even remember much about my time at Yves Saint Laurent, though I do think some of my best collections were [there]–other than that black-and-white initial one. That one wasn’t very successful and wasn’t very good. But being at Yves Saint Laurent was such a negative experience for me even though the business boomed while I was there. Yves and his partner, Pierre Berge, were so difficult and so evil and made my life such misery. I’d lived in France off and on and had always loved it. I went to college in France. It wasn’t until I started working in France that I began to dislike it. They would call the fiscal police, and they would show up at our offices. You are not able to work an employee more than 35 hours a week. They’re like Nazis, those police. They’d come marching in, and you had to let them in and they’d interview my secretary. And they can fine you and shut you down.

Pierre was the one calling them. I’ve never talked about this on the record before, but it was an awful time for me. Pierre and Yves were just evil. So Yves Saint Laurent doesn’t exist for me.”

Ford didn’t buy anything from the YSL estate sale in February 2009. “God, of course not. I have letters from Yves Saint Laurent that are so mean you cannot even believe such vitriol is possible. I don’t think he was high when he wrote them either. I just think he was jealous, and Yves and I were friends before I took over the company. But then we began to move the company forward and were very successful..he just became so insanely jealous…that phase in my life just doesn’t exist anymore.”

Yves Saint Laurent loved a good feud — his ongoing rivalry with former friend Karl Lagerfeld is legendary. No doubt YSL was a bit jealous of Tom, the young fashion designer who captured Paris by storm. But we also wouldn’t be surprised if YSL was high as a kite when he wrote those letters. So Tom kept them all these years? We do hope he decides to share them with the public, perhaps someday in his memoirs. You just know they are bitchy, vile…and totally readable.

As for the 35 hour work week police, that was a product of the French Socialist party which — at the time — was determined that workers have plenty of time to relax. If they showed up at any American design house, they’d be laughed out of the offices. What top designer works only 35 hours a week? It’s more like round the clock.

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