Yves Saint Laurent, considered by many as the greatest fashion designer of the 20th Century, has died in Paris at the age of 71.
Saint Laurent changed the face of the fashion industry when he became chief designer of the House of Dior at 21.
He designed clothes that reflected women's changing role in society: more confident personally, sexually and in the work-place.
He retired from haute couture in 2002 and had been ill for some time.
Saint Laurent died on Sunday evening in the French capital, the Pierre-Berge-Saint Laurent Foundation announced.
Pierre Berge, the designer's former business and personal partner, said he had died at his home after a long illness. He did not give details.
'I draw on woman'
"I found my style through women," Saint Laurent once said.
"That's where its strength and vitality comes from because I draw on the body of a woman."
He changed forever what women wear, introducing trouser suits, safari jackets and sweaters, BBC arts correspondent Razia Iqbal notes.
Saint Laurent was a great innovator, helping to revitalise haute couture while making ready-to-wear design popular.
The editor of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, said she had helped democratise fashion:
"Before that people had small salons for rich people.
"Saint Laurent brought it to the people.
"He was young and groovy. Pop stars were hanging out with him and younger generations related to him."
Famous French embroiderer Francois Lesage, who worked 40 years with the designer, said he was "devastated" by news of his death.
"I have never known a designer who would give so much thought to something when it was proposed to him," he told French TV.
"It is a great grief for me."
Life of ill-health
Born in the Algerian city of Oran at a time when the North African country was still considered a part of France, he had a precocious talent.
At the age of 18 he won a dress design competition, which brought him to the notice of Christian Dior.
His first collection caused a sensation with its gently flared dresses and jackets that set the mould for 1950s fashion.
Within three years, Dior had died and Yves St Laurent had taken his place. He made clothes that were elegant and sexy, reflecting women's more confident role in society.
He took the world by storm with his trouser suits, highly coloured ethnic prints and designs inspired by the art world.
Taunted as a schoolboy because of his homosexuality, Yves St Laurent suffered mental and physical ill health for much of his life and he appeared in public only rarely.
But his influence will last for years to come, our arts correspondent Razia Iqbal says.
France has lost not only its greatest fashion designer but also a cultural icon, she adds.