About Louise Vava Lucia Henriette le Bailly de la Falaise
Loulou de La Falaise (French pronunciation: [lu.lu də la fa.lɛz]; (4 May 1948, England – 5 November 2011, Boury-en-Vexin, France) was a fashion muse and designer of fashion, accessories, and jewelry associated with Yves Saint-Laurent. Author Judith Thurman, writing in The New Yorker magazine, called La Falaise "the quintessential Rive Gauche haute bohémienne".
Daughter of an Anglo-Irish fashion model and a French marquis, La Falaise was a close friend and creative partner of Yves Saint Laurent (YSL). According to The Independent, she helped inspire his 1966 women's tuxedo Le Smoking and his see-through blouses.
After more than three decades designing jewelry and accessories for Saint Laurent, La Falaise launched her own fashion business, designing ready-to-wear, costume-jewelry, and accessories, which were retailed in the U.S. as well as two Loulou de La Falaise shops in Paris.
The family's actual surname is Le Bailly, though members have used Le Bailly de La Falaise, referring to an ancestral estate, since the mid 19th century; it is typically abbreviated to de La Falaise.
The title held by the head of the family, Marquis de La Coudraye, was granted, by an 1876 act of succession, to the younger son of Pacôme-François Le Bailly, Seigneur de La Falaise, and his wife, Pauline-Louise-Victoire de Loynes, daughter of Denis, Marquis de La Coudraye. However, the title of Marquis was never registered at the "Sceau de France, Ministry of Justice" and is therefore not valid. The same goes for the title of Count. Male descendants can on the other hand claim the title of Ecuyer. The family's younger sons typically call themselves Count de La Falaise.
Christened Louise Vava Lucia Henriette Le Bailly de La Falaise and born in England, she was the eldest child and only daughter of Alain, Count de La Falaise (1903–1977), a French writer, translator, and publisher, and his second wife, the former Maxime Birley, an Anglo-Irish fashion model, whom photographer Cecil Beaton once told, "You are the only English woman I know who manages to be really chic in really hideous clothes".
Three of her christening names honored relations: Louise (her father's elder sister, who died as a teenager); Vava (one of the names of her maternal grandmother, Lady Birley); and Henriette (the name of her paternal grandmother, Henriette Hennessy, Comtesse Alain Hocquart de Turtot). La Falaise was allegedly baptised not with holy water but with Shocking, the scent by fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, her mother's employer.
La Falaise's maternal grandfather was portrait painter Sir Oswald Birley, and an uncle was Mark Birley (1930–2007), restaurateur and founder of the London nightclub, "Annabel's". Another uncle, her father's elder brother, was Henri de La Falaise, (1898–1972), film director and third husband of American actress Gloria Swanson. Her paternal grandfather was a three-time French Olympic gold medallist in fencing, Louis Gabriel de La Falaise (1866–1910).
Loulou de La Falaise had one sibling, Alexis Richard Dion Oswald Le Bailly de La Falaise,(1948-2004), a furniture designer, who appeared in the Andy Warhol film Tub Girls. Upon their parents' divorce in 1950—following Maxime de La Falaise's infidelities and a French court's declaration of her as an unfit mother—Loulou and her brother went to live with foster families until she was seven. After that, La Falaise was enrolled in English boarding schools, and "her school holidays were shared between mother, father, and the second foster family". She attended a boarding school in Switzerland as well as the Lycée Français de New York, though was expelled from each due to her rebellious nature.
Her niece, Lucie Le Bailly de La Falaise (born 19 February 1973), a model, is the wife of Marlon Richards, son of Keith Richards and Anita Pallenberg. Her nephew, Daniel Le Bailly de La Falaise,(born 6 September 1970), was also a model, notably appearing in Madonna's book Sex; briefly an actor, he is now a professional chef.
La Falaise moved to New York City in the late 1960s, where she briefly modeled for American Vogue before turning to designing printed fabrics for Halston. Late in the decade she worked as a junior editor at the British society magazine Queen, during which time she met Saint Laurent. Eventually, she moved to Paris, where she joined his haute-couture firm in 1972. Responding to a description of her as a Saint Laurent muse in 2010, La Falaise responded, “For me, a muse is someone who looks glamorous but is quite passive, whereas I was very hard-working. I worked from 9am to sometimes 9pm, or even 2am. I certainly wasn't passive.”
"Her official task was to bring her eccentric style to accessories and jewellery, and she duly came up with often-chunky designs incorporating large colourful stones, enamel work or rock crystal". La Falaise also inspired Saint Laurent with her inventive wardrobe: "one week she was Desdemona in purple velvet flares and a crown of flowers, the next Marlene [Dietrich] with plucked crescent-shaped eyebrows". In 2002, when Saint Laurent retired, La Falaise began producing her own clothing and jewelry designs. As reported in The New York Times by fashion writer Cathy Horyn, "The clothing line captured much of her rare taste—well-cut blazers in the best English tweeds, French sailor pants in linen, striped silk blouses with cheeky black lace edging, masculine walking coats with fur linings, and gorgeous knits in perfectly chosen colors".
She also designed cloisonné boxes and porcelain vases for Asiatides, as well as jewelry for the boutique of the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech, Morocco.
She sold simplified versions of her jewelry designs in a line created for the Home Shopping Network and created costume jewelry for Oscar de la Renta. She operated two of her own shops in Paris, one of which was designed by her brother, Alexis.
Loulou de La Falaise was married twice:
Desmond FitzGerald, 29th Knight of Glin, an Irish nobleman, who died on 14 September 2011. They married on 6 October 1966, separated the following year, and divorced in 1970. Her title upon marrying the knight was Madam FitzGerald.
Thadée Klossowski de Rola, a French writer, who is the younger son of the painter Balthus. They married in Paris, France, on 11 June 1977; the bride wore a harem-and-turban ensemble from Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. They had one child, a daughter, Anna.
La Falaise died at her residence in Boury-en-Vexin, France, on 5 November 2011. The cause of death was not specified, other than as the result of a "long illness". An obituary published in Women's Wear Daily stated, "According to sources, de la Falaise was diagnosed with cancer last June, but implored intimates to keep her health a private matter.
Loulou de la Falaise's Timeline
May 4, 1948
November 5, 2011
Boury-en-Vexin, Oise, Picardy, France