Life lessons from Loulou de la Falaise

LOULOU HERO1

It’s impossible not to feel inspired when you look at Loulou de la Falaise.

Sure, they’re only photographs and many are black and white, but she still manages to transport you. To a place where turbans are effortlessly chic, where black turtlenecks are practically breathtaking and to a place where too much is never enough.

Loulou de la Falaise, though not an immediately obvious household name, was a free-spirited accessories designer, best known for her eccentric style and her close friendship (and museship) with the late Yves Saint Laurent. An upper class Anglo-Irish girl, stylist Grace Coddington once described her by simply saying: “You took one look at Loulou and gasped.”

LOULOU AND YSL

Loulou de la Falaise and Yves Saint Laurent styling the model Willy van Rooy, 1974

In her own words, Falaise had been baptised by her mother with a dab of  the Schiaparelli perfume Shocking in lieu of water; or even bathed in the scent after birth. And if this is true, it definitely shows. Loulou was an it girl before it girls were ever a thing – dominating the Parisian social circuit for more than forty years, as pronounced and every bit as striking as the accessories she so artfully designed.

So as 1970s fashion enjoys a seasonal revival, what can we learn from the eccentricities of one of fashion’s most loved bohemiennes?

LOULOU COUCH

Loulou always dressed for herself

1. Listen to yourself

Loulou once said that a fashion faux pas is what happens when you’re not confident in yourself. In this regard, she was one of the very first poster girls for independent woman everywhere. In her lifetime fashion trends came and fashion trends went, but Loulou always orientated her fashion choices using the right compass: herself.

LOULOU BLACK

2. Be comfortably chic

Loulou supposedly believed that the great style icons are tomboys. And the philosophy definitely rings true in her manner of dress, a manner that made sure she was always well-ready to seize the day. Though she always looked elegant, chic and polished, her secret wasn’t in what she put on, but how she felt in what she wore. Whether it was a pair of jeans, a cocktail dress or a YSL pantsuit, Loulou always stepped out in comfort.

LOULOU PARTY

Halston, Loulou de la Falaise, Yves Saint Laurent, Nan Kempner, Steve Rubell

3. Work hard, play hard 

Even while working with Yves Saint Laurent, Loulou enjoyed wild nights out on the town. Memories that can now be smiled upon in a seemingly endless collection of black and white photographs. Nevertheless, Falaise was always at her desk the next morning. Loulou’s life might have appeared to have been all glamour but she worked just as hard as she played. Proof that if you want to make your dreams come true, you’ve got to make them happen, no matter who you are.

LOULOU TURBAN

4. Too much is never enough

Everybody wanted to look like Loulou, but few had the eye, and even fewer had the courage. The ensembles that she pieced together were 100% Loulou, styled purely from her own imagination. But it wasn’t just her clothes that turned heads, it was her seemingly endless cache of earrings, bangles, necklaces and rings. Loulou masterfully mixed select pieces of vintage couture with eccentric fleamarket finds; the very embodiment of the philosophy that too much is simply never enough.

Kathryn Carter is a freelance writer based in Melbourne. She writes about art and fashion, and enjoys collecting peculiarly shaped leaves during long walks in the park.

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