Loulou de la Falaise deserves the term fabled. One of Yves Saint Laurent’s muses, greats such as Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton and Irving Penn were entranced by her Marlene Dietrich-like features and general allure. Meanwhile, she became renowned for creating Saint Laurent’s accessories line and being his studio’s official spokesperson. The designer was often ill and or absent. And during his more fragile periods, certain seasons were nicknamed Yves Saint Loulou by me and other cheeky journalists chez Women’s Wear Daily; where I worked from 1991 – 1999. Not that any of us would have dared write that! Just as Loulou defined fiercely Parisian, she also ‘defined’ watch dog fierce. Still, such experience allowed her to launch her own fashion label, a year after Saint Laurent retired in 2002.
Nowadays, Loulou sells her designs on the Home Shopping Network – clothes and accessories – as well as dreaming up elaborate baubles for designer Oscar de la Renta, New York’s Sultan of Chic. Much of the latter bristles with Loulou magic. Imagine glass gems that light up when worn next to the skin and effortless styles that suit everyone. They remind that Loulou’s inner chic comes from adapting, whatever the circumstances. A navy and white polka-dot outfit: mismatched and jazzed up for Claude Montana’s wedding quickly jumps to mind. As do chunky necklaces flawlessly arrayed on a shantung shirt and a simple fisherman’s sweater teamed with white jeans. Then there’s Loulou’s recent role as the artistic director of the exhibition – Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. She had all the mannequins painted Matisse colours for the occasion. It is the needed éclat that furthers Saint Laurent’s genius by livening up his work. For those keen to view iconic pea coats, smokings and trenches up close; Rive Gauche equals le must.
Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni is a Paris-based British journalist who covers fashion and lifestyle as well as being the author of Sam Spiegel – The Biography of A Hollywood Legend, Understanding Chic, an essay from the Paris Was Ours anthology and soon-to-be released Chanel book, for Assouline's fashion series.
Robert Beck is former New Yorker currently based in Paris. Also known as C.J. Rabbitt, he is the author and illustrator of several children's books, including The Tale of Rabbitt in Paradis, Un Lapin à Paris and the soon-to-be-published A Bunny in the Ballet