domingo, 3 de novembro de 2013

Loulou de la Falaise, VOGUE - VOGUEPEDIA Personalities

Loulou de la Falaise

VOGUE - VOGUEPEDIA Personalities


Photograph by Deborah Turbeville. Published in Vogue, February 1975.

“Loulou de La Falaise has always been one of the more original dressers—putting bits and pieces together with wit, color, and sometimes, inspired madness,”[1] Vogue wrote in 1972. At just 24, the bright young style-setter had already blazed a colorful streak through London, where she was a teenage mover and shaker in the swinging sixties; and New York, where she posed for Vogue—frolicking in a monkey-fur bolero for Richard Avedon—and became a Halstonette.

By the early seventies, de La Falaise was in Paris at the bidding of
Yves Saint Laurent, a designer poised at the crossroads of couture and the budding luxury ready-to-wear market. Into Saint Laurent’s salon Loulou sailed, bringing with her a fresh, free spirit and magpie eye for flash and color. Initially, de La Falaise’s role wasn’t clear—since meeting her at a tea party a few years before, Saint Laurent was simply smitten with her bohemian glamour. “Yves saw me and was dazzled. He immediately gave me loads of clothes to mix with mine,”[2] she later said. Coming out of Mod London, however, de La Falaise, a fashion editor for the British society magazine Queen, thought the finery “pretty straight. English fashion was not that aware of French couture. It was in its own world of miniskirts. I got to Paris and thought, ‘Why have these people not moved
on?’ ”
Like a hippie Mary Poppins, the plumed-and-turbaned de La Falaise—now working as Saint Laurent’s assistant —pulled any number of fabulous finds from her proverbial bag: airy chiffon prints, Indian scarves, and silver bangles all fluttering and clanking onto his desk. She also came armed with trunkfuls of chic togs passed down to her mother from her eccentric grandmother. (The wife of the society portraitist Sir Oswald Birley, Lady Rhoda was known to feed Lobster Thermidor to her roses; Loulou’s mother, Maxime de La Falaise, was a model and muse for the groundbreaking couturiere Elsa Schiaparelli.)
“She is an artist of the safety pin,” said the designer Fernando Sanchez, who first introduced Loulou to Yves. “Three pins and two pieces of cloth, and she has four ravishing evening dresses.”[4] Manolo Blahnik—the haute cobbler who was moved to design raffia platforms after catching a glimpse of her in turban, poppies, and cork espadrilles on the King’s Road—agreed. “She dresses from the cutting-room floor,” he told Vogue, “but she puts her stamp on whatever she wears.”[5]
In 1978, The Washington Post proclaimed de La Falaise and Paloma Picasso the queens of Paris’s disco society; they glittered and glided across the floor at Le Palace until 7:30 a.m. On a typical night out, Loulou’s getup might approximate “a sort of pirate, troubadour, and medieval page,”[6] she later recalled. Fired up from a night of dancing, she often headed straight into the atelier, spilling the night’s glamour into Yves’s eager ear. From Loulou, his “little miracle,”[7] as he called her, Saint Laurent absorbed the swirling colors and passions of the time, and translated them into his designs: jumping Russian Cossacks, Chinese empresses, Marrakech’s exotic palette. So infused was each collection with her joie-de-madcap style that staffers at 5 Avenue Marceau would later refer to the line as “Yves de Loulou.”
Although she is today often identified simply as Saint Laurent’s muse, de La Falaise in fact worked pencil-to-pencil with him for three decades, designing as many as 2,000 pieces of jewelry per year, as well as hats, knitwear, and garments from the couture, seasonal, and Rive Gauche lines. With her coppery curls, piercing blue eyes, and infectious, throaty laugh, she was a bright foil to Saint Laurent’s brooding darkness, drawing him out with her youth and ebullience.
Both Loulou and the blonde, androgynous beauty Betty Catroux—whom Yves referred to as his “twin sister”[8]—served as walking mood boards from which Saint Laurent drew endless inspiration. De La Falaise, in particular, was integral to his design process; without her at his side, the house of Saint Laurent would not have been the same. “She is charm, poetry, excess, extravagance, and elegance all in one blow,”[9] he said.
Loulou once confided the secret to devil-may-care chic to Vogue: “We’re self-invented creatures,” she said. “You start by creating yourself.”[10]

  1. 1947
Louise Vava Lucia Henriette Le Bailly de La Falaise born to Alain Le Bailly and Maxime Birley de La Falaise. Her father is a French count; her mother, an Anglo-Irish beauty who served as model-vendeuse-muse for designer Elsa Schiaparelli, and posed for Vogue. (Loulou will later claim to have been baptized by Schiaparelli’s Shocking perfume.)
  1. 1949
A brother, Alexis, born.
  1. 1950
Due to mother Maxime’s numerous affairs, her marriage to Alain falls apart. Loulou and Alexis are sent to the country where they will be cared for by foster families. “He was living his life and she was living hers,” Loulou will later tell a reporter. “There was no question of us staying with either of them. It’s possible my mother lost custody of me. She never told me.”[11] Loulou is later kicked out of boarding schools in Sussex, where she puts slugs in her schoolmates’ shoes; and Gstaad, where she harbors a St. Bernard in her room (soon after she adopts it, the giant dog savages a poodle).
Lady Rhoda Birley, Loulou’s eccentric grandmother, neglects to put a formal coming-out notice for her granddaughter in the London Times, or add her to the official debutante list. Not one for stuffy dances anyway, young Loulou lives it up in St. John’s Wood. Dressed in flowing Ossie Clark, the 17-year-old free spirit becomes a fixture of Swinging London.
Marries Irish aristocrat Desmond FitzGerald, the 29th Knight of Glin. The bride wears a Chaucerian wimple draped from antique lace. A portrait of the new Madam FitzGerald by Cecil Beaton later appears in British Vogue. Loulou moves into the crenellated family castle on the Shannon. Her husband flies in planeloads of London pals for house parties. “She was so excited by dressing up,” FitzGerald will later tell Vogue. “Any excuse and out would come peacock feathers, strange belts, stage jewelry.”[12] However, the restless Loulou will soon grow bored with castle life, and the couple amicably separate a year later.
Works as a junior fashion editor at British style magazine Queen. At a tea party given by Paris designer Fernando Sanchez, meets Yves Saint Laurent and his business manager, Pierre Bergé. Sanchez had promised an introduction to “Yves and Pierre”; Loulou, who hadn’t heard of Saint Laurent, believed he meant Mod designer Pierre Cardin, and was a bit let down. “We had Mary Quant, Carnaby Street, Ossie Clark . . . we thought France was stuffy,”[13] she will later recall. After Saint Laurent does a funny impression, the two hit it off. “We giggled . . . we dressed up,”[14] she will later tell Vogue.
Divorces Desmond FitzGerald. Moves to New York City, where she shares a Second Avenue cold-water flat with model Berry Berenson. “I was a divorcée at 21. I thought it was the most glamorous thing in the world,”[15] de La Falaise will later recall. She hangs out with models Veruschka and Pat Cleveland, the illustrator Antonio Lopez, and Roy Halston, for whom she designs fabrics—including one of little rabbits with erections. Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland taps de La Falaise to model for the magazine. In September, the gay divorcée kicks up her heels for an eight-page fashion portfolio in Vogue, shot by Richard Avedon.
Saint Laurent sends de La Falaise pieces from his controversial Hommage aux Années 40 collection. Inspired by 1940s fashions in Paris during the Nazi Occupation, the short skirts and platform shoes have a hint of hooker-chic. The daring retro pieces outrage older clients who lived through the war, but are taken up by the younger generation. Loulou flaunts a Saint Laurent Kelly-green fox chubby around New York.
Saint Laurent asks Loulou to work with him in Paris. February: Vogue captures de La Falaise, Diane von Furstenberg, and others at a fête for Cabaret star Liza Minnelli, hosted at Paris’s Club Privé by Minnelli’s co-star in the film, Marisa Berenson (sister of roomie Berry). March: Vogue spotlights the French-English beauty’s witty style. August: The magazine admires her sleek new crop—“a breeze to deal with”[16]—by Paris hairstylist Guillaume.
In her Vogue food column, Loulou’s mother, Maxime, lists the culinary favorites of Saint Laurent and his intimate circle, including Loulou, Pierre Bergé, and Betty Catroux.
Vogue spotlights fashion’s “big guns” in Paris, London, and Italy. Deborah Turbeville captures Saint Laurent—“the genius who achieves the perfect balance between change and continuity”[17]—and two of his muses, de La Falaise and Marina Schiano.
Marries writer Thadée Klossowski de Rola, son of the painter Balthus. “For the ceremony, the handsome Thadée was dressed entirely in white, and his bride, who was dressed as a 16th-century maharaja in harem pants, sported a turban sprouting a flame-colored aigrette and carried a fistful of beribboned red anemones,”[18] Vogue writer Hamish Bowles will later note. Afterward, some 2,000 guests, including dancers from gay hotspot Le Sept, are ferried out to an island in the Bois de Boulogne for a night of revelry. (Future Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley, dapper in a white Le Smoking, is among the guests.) Loulou dances till dawn in a silver-streaked indigo sari dress and a homemade cardboard crown of moons and stars.
Throws a memorable costume ball at Paris disco glitterbox Le Palace. Guests are required to come as angels; Loulou shows up as the devil. De La Falaise becomes the public face of the house of Saint Laurent, appearing at public events in the designer’s stead. Soon, she begins overseeing the Rive Gauche label with studio director Anne-Marie Muñoz.
Daughter Anna Baladine Rose Cassimira Klossowski born. She will grow up playing in the Yves Saint Laurent atelier, and later pursue a career as an artist.
March: Irving Penn composes a regal portrait of all three generations of fabulous de La Falaise women for Vogue. Loulou’s niece, model Lucie de La Falaise, has been signed as the face of YSL cosmetics. December: Lucie graces the cover of Vogue.
For the first time, de La Falaise receives credit in the couture show notes for her jewelry designs. (However, the pieces don’t bear her name—“Imagine, I’d always have to make such huge jewels to get it all on!”[19] she jokes.)
Following an acquisition by the Gucci Group, Tom Ford takes over the design of the Rive Gauche label. “We’re less stressed now,” de La Falaise tells W magazine. “We have more time to work on the couture . . . I think it was time for Yves to let go a little bit.”[20]
Yves Saint Laurent presents his last couture collection and retires.
De La Falaise branches out on her own with a line of signature jewelry, accessories, and clothing. She will later expand into home decor. Opens a flagship boutique, La Maison de Loulou, on Paris’s Rue Cambon (another store later opens on Rue Bourgogne). In July Vogue, longtime pal André Leon Talley gives an inside peek. “Imagine stepping inside a giant lacquered box brought home via steamer from China—with reds, golds, and a dragon motif—and that’s de La Falaise,”[21] he writes.
Receives an honorary degree from San Francisco’s Academy of Art University. For popular Paris boutique Colette, designs a limited-edition waxed-cotton bracelet with a vermeil wolf, her signature leitmotif. (“Lou lou” sounds a lot like “wolf wolf” in French.) Launches a diffusion line of jewelry and decorative objects, Loulou de La Falaise Fantaisies. “Each piece is a fantasy because things shouldn’t be serious, but fun and enhancing,”[22] she says.
Designs fine jewelry for Oscar de la Renta’s fall show. Launches an affordable line of costume jewelry and handbags with home-shopping giant HSN. The range later expands to include footwear and clothing. Yves Saint Laurent dies. To his funeral, de La Falaise wears “what looked like an homage to Marlene Dietrich: an impeccable YSL black linen jacket, pencil skirt, stockings, patent leather peep-toe heels, and a fabulous black fedora tilted at just the right angle. She kept her sunglasses on during the two-hour Mass,”[23] Vogue columnist André Leon Talley notes.
Dies from liver cancer at the age of 64, at home in the Vexin region of Northwest France.
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