Loulou de la Falaise and her impeccable and timeless fashion style
‘My first impression was that she was a lovely English girl. A bit of a hippie. We were all very young, and she was full of life.’ – Betty Catroux in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar.
Needless to mention that Loulou de la Falaise was an astonishing fashion icon, she was also ‘an enduring muse’ to Yves Saint Laurent, helping the designer shape the core of his inspiring fashion brand during the 1970s and 80s. But so little is known about her early life and how she became a fashion muse of all time.
Her unconventional childhood
Born as a daughter of a French marquis and a British model Maxime Birley, Loulou de la Falaise was brought up in an environment with a great exposure to art and fashion. Having been expelled from three boarding schools in three countries, she was soon discovered by an American Vogue editor in New York as a model.
A free-spirited fashion model
La Falaise started modelling in New York City in the late 1960s and working with a couple of notable photographers, such as Richard Avedon and Irving Penn. Despite her ‘interminable legs, red-blonde hair and gypsy style’ that won the attention of many fashion photographers, La Falaise herself did not always find the modelling job enamouring. Shortly after she left New York for London, she decided to retire from the world of fashion modelling and got married to an Irish aristocrat.
(Image via Pinterest)
The birth of “Yves Saint Loulou”
However, it was not until when she first met Saint Laurent in the late 1960s that changed the course of her life. It was also the time when the designer was moving toward ‘prêt-à-porter’ clothing stores. Soon after they met, he fell in love with the style of this witty, eccentric and free-spirited 21-year old divorcee, Loulou de la Falaise.
“We hit it off straight away because he had a very silly sense of humour. We got into a fit of giggles,” La Falaise recalled.
Her style was the true inspiration for the development of YSL’s Le Smoking suit and classic sheer blouse, the very first female tuxedo that revolutionised the conventional women’s wear. However, her influence also extended beyond fashion to accessories as she often spent her time choosing “semi-precious or even quarter-precious” stones to experiment and work on.
(Image via Pinterest)
According to Cathy Horyn, an American fashion journalist, her “chunky bracelets and necklaces’ eventually helped shape the foundation of the famous YSL look.
The eccentric and timeless style
In 2002, La Falaise went on to produce her own clothing and jewellery designs after Saint Laurent had retired.
“The clothing line captured much of her rare taste—well-cut blazers in the best English tweeds, French sailor pants in linen, striped silk blouses with cheeky black lace edging, masculine walking coats with fur linings, and gorgeous knits in perfectly chosen colors”. – Cathy Horyn
Her style pretty much reflected her personality. She disliked black. She loved flowers. She always dressed herself in colours and accessories. Her first boutique store, ”Parisian boutique, La Maison de Loulou” was established to sell her ready-to-wear fashion and unique accessories. Even after the recession that led to the closure of her business, she kept designing beautiful jewellery collections for her notable clients.
Despite her death in 2011, her timeless, colourful and chunky accessory designs remained as the perfect reflection of Loulou de Le Falaise herself; charming, upbeat and beautiful.
To discover more about her enchanted life story and astonishing career, check out the latest book of Ariel De Ravenel and Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, ‘Loulou de la Falaise’. Natasha, who also worked as an accessory designer in Paris and was a close acquaintance of Loulou de la Falaise.
(Cover image via.)