Loulou de la Falaise & the Unfortunate Incident

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I started photographing the Paris collections in 1972 for British Vogue with the mighty Grace Coddington. For the first night Anne Schaufuss (my great love and muse) had worked all the way through, in those days you could only get the clothes at night and it was truly exhausting for all concerned.  Buoyed by the excitement of the occasion, and ridiculous amounts of cigarettes and coffee we all got through.

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The next night Loulou De Failaise appeared and Grace put her in this pink headdress and gown, which had a transparent chiffon top, which was quite risqué for those days. Loulou smiled and fluttered her eyelashes at me meanwhile Annie was standing behind me, dressed and ready for the next shot. Over my shoulder I heard Annie shout, in response to Loulou slightly flirting with the camera (which is perfectly normal, all models do this in my experience); ‘I know you want my boyfriend!’ Clearly she had taken the situation the wrong way and I think she used much stronger language. Loulou responded ‘No, not at all” to which Annie retorted, “Yes, you do” repeatedly. The contretemps continued for quite sometime until Grace took Annie to the dressing room to calm down and I continued taking photographs and smoothing the water with Loulou.

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We finished at about 6am, all of us a bit delirious with tiredness. Annie and I went back to the hotel still rowing with each other and Annie constantly complaining about ‘that woman’. A few hours later at 8am the phone rang, it was Beatrice Miller saying ‘Clive I want Annie out of the studio, she was rude to Loulou, who is a French aristocrat and she can’t behave like that’. I said that the situation had calmed and it was all a misunderstanding and Annie was very tired from working so hard the evening before. I told Beatrice how amazing the pictures where and that it could be resolved but she was completely incensed and said “No, I don’t care I cannot have this behaviour, I want her out of the studio today’. I said ‘I can’t leave her as you know she is my partner as well as being a great model, where as Loulou has beauty but is not a fashion model.” She said, “I don’t care, I want her out”. I said ‘If she goes, I go”. With that screaming an expletive I put the phone down and booked a cab to Charles De Gaulle and flew back to London. A week later I was shooting for Harpers.

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I then met Loulou after many years when I photographed Yves Saint Laurent, which I have already written about on this blog. The curious thing is nothing was said, in fact I did say “I think I haven’t seen you since the collections in 1972” (which almost ended my career with Vogue) and she just smiled a wry and knowing smile. The softness of the early Loulou was gone and she had evolved into quite a formidable icon of French couture. She was very protective of Yves and he off her; it was quite touching to see how close they were.  As I drove back to London, I thought of the many things I could have said about our past encounter and then I realised it was better to just let it go.

 

 

 

 

 

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