Style Icon: Loulou de la Falaise
Loulou de la Falaise / Source: BOF
“I don’t like black. You wear black when you’re miserable.” — Loulou de la Falaise
What a great quote to keep somewhere in the back of one’s brain. Here is a woman that embraced colour, print, the wonders of over-accessorizing, and the joy of dressing. Loulou de la Falaise is the original creator of boho chic. Sure, there were bohos before her, but she was the first to make the look of the high fashion variety.
With YSL and Betty Catroux (1978) / Source: WWD
I meant to post something on Loulou de la Falaise last year when she passed away, but then every single magazine/paper/website had written an obituary much more poignant than anything I could. A year later, and the house that she worked at for almost three decades, Yves Saint Laurent, seems to be at the crossroads with Hedi Slimane making some controversial changes. Loulou de la Falaise played the ying to Betty Catroux’s yang, as they both served as muses for the legendary Yves Saint Laurent since the 1960s. If you’ve watched L’amour Fou, you’ll know that Yves Saint Laurent was a pretty miserable chap for most of his lifetime — and Betty Catroux, his “twin” and the inspiration behind Le Smoking, was no sunshine. Loulou, on the other hand, represented the sunnier side of things. In Catroux’s words, “Loulou was poetry. We were the opposite. She saw everything in pink and I saw everything in black.”
Loulou de la Falaise design for YSL / Source: 1st Dibs
To dismiss her as merely Saint Laurent’s “muse” is probably doing a disservice to this creative woman. Her knack for accessories promoted her from a clothes horse to YSL’s jewellery designer, a post she held from 1971 until his retirement in 2000, producing hundreds of pieces of a year, always integrating ethnic references that defined her signature style (the famous “Arty Ring”? That was her). Loulou masterfully mixed vintage couture with cheap market finds from Marrakesh. Saint Laurent loved her, her style, and her joie de vivre.
Photographed by Bert Stern (1970) / Source: WWD
As Saint Laurent sank into deeper depression in the ’80s and ’90s, she acted as the unofficial creative director, organizing the staff, editing the collections, and keeping everyone’s spirits up. She worked so tirelessly cultivating his ideas to life (and he was not the easiest person to deal with) that the YSL staff nicknamed the collections “Yves Saint Loulou.”
Photographed by Roberto Frankenberg at home / Source: The Guardian
So, as you can see, Loulou was an immense influence not just as a style icon, but as a major player in fashion history. Far from just high cheekbones and long legs, she had style that people will be looking back to for years on end.