Loulou & Yves: The Untold Story of Loulou de La Falaise and the House of Saint Laurent

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St. Martin's Press, Apr 17, 2018 - Biography & Autobiography - 512 pages

No one interested in fashion, style, or the high-flying intrigues of café society will want to miss Christopher Petkanas’s exuberantly entertaining oral biography Loulou & Yves: The Untold Story of Loulou de La Falaise and the House of Saint Laurent.

Dauntless, “in the bone” style made Loulou de La Falaise one of the great fashion firebrands of the twentieth century. Descending in a direct line from Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, she was celebrated at her death in 2011, aged just sixty-four, as the “highest of haute bohemia,” a feckless adventuress in the art of living—and the one person Yves Saint Laurent could not live without.

Yves was the most influential designer of his times; possibly also the most neurasthenic. In an exquisitely intimate, sometimes painful personal and professional relationship, Loulou was his creative right hand, muse, alter ego and the virtuoso behind all the flamboyant accessories that were a crucial component of the YSL “look.” For thirty years, until his retirement in 2002, Yves relied on Loulou to inspire him, make him laugh and talk him off the ledge—the enchanted formula that brought him from one historic collection to the next.

Yves’s many tributes shape Loulou’s memory, as if everything there was to know about this fugitive, Giacometti-like figure could be told by her clanking bronze cuffs, towering fur toques, the turquoise boulders on her fingers and her working friendship with the man who put women in pants. But another, darker story lifts the veil on Loulou, a classic “number two” with a contempt for convention, and exposes the underbelly of fashion at its highest level. Behind Yves’s encomiums are a pair of aristocrat parents—Loulou’s shiftless French father and menacingly chic English mother—who abandoned her to a childhood of foster care and sexual abuse; Loulou’s recurring desperation to leave Yves and go out on her own; and the grandiose myths surrounding her family. Loulou felt that her life had been kidnapped by the operatic workings of the House of Saint Laurent, and in her last years faced financial ruin. Loulou & Yves unspools an elusive fashion idol—nymphomaniacal, heedless and up to her bracelets in coke and Boizel champagne—at the core of what used to be called “le beau monde.”

 

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Contents

Sir Oswald and Lady Birley
1
A Tribe Called Falaise
17
Rogue Countess
29
Les Mis
41
Sussex to Gstaad New York to Provence
48
The Knight of Glin
59
Shes Married to a Fairy so Whats Her Problem?
86
Donald Cammell Sex Addict
97
STOP PRESS
221
Wedding of the Decade
233
La Vie en Couple
247
Bijoux de Fantaisie
266
Les Clans
281
Muse?
301
Les Girls Saint Laurent
318
Slogging Through the Nineties
342

Hippie de Luxe Londonienne
109
The Years Between 19681972
114
Loulou Yves
141
AnneMarie Muñoz Mater Dolorosa
159
Thadéeor Ricardo?
168
GlueGunning Ahead of the Curve
201
Aint Laurent Without Yves
356
Loulou Inc
370
Final Stretch
389
The Second Death of Saint Laurent
415
Copyright

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About the author (2018)

CHRISTOPHER PETKANAS covered Loulou de La Falaise and the House of Saint Laurent from 1982 to 1988 while living in Paris, picking up with Loulou again more than two decades later, in 2010, the year before she died. He has written for The New York Times, Vogue, and Architectural Digest, and his previous books are At Home in France: Eating and Entertaining with the French, and Parish-Hadley: Sixty Years of American Design (with Sister Parish and Albert Hadley). He resides in New York City.

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