In Memoriam: Loulou de la Falaise

Loulou de la Falaise, who died Saturday at the age of 63, led a life of fashion from the moment she was baptized— not with water, that is, but with Shocking, the perfume by Elsa Schiaparelli.

An habitué of the international fashion scene for decades, de la Falaise was known for her humor and laid-back chic, a bold personal style that is rumored to have inspired Yves Saint Laurent’s famous Le Smoking and risqué sheer blouses. But though she is considered one of fashion’s greatest muses, it’s a title she rejected, seeing herself as an active member of the house instead.

De la Falaise was born Louise Vava Lucia Henriette de la Falaise in 1948 to a mother who modeled for Schiaparelli and appeared in films by Andy Warhol. In the late 1960s, she made her way to New York, where she worked designing prints for Halston. By 1972 she was working as a junior editor for a gossip magazine, when she met Yves Saint Laurent, who offered her a loosely defined job as a member of his entourage in Paris.

For three decades, she remained a close confidante of the designer, consulting on couture and ready-to-wear and designing the label’s jewelry line, where she introduced her signature oversized semiprecious stones. Upon Saint Laurent’s retirement in 2002, she launched her own line and opened two shops in Paris.

De la Falaise died of a longstanding, unspecified illness at her home in Boury-en-Vexin, France, on November 5, 2011.

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