Inspiration can strike me anytime, anywhere (the inside of a piece of fruit, a building, a feeling) but also there can be no doubt of the influence certain women have had on my style over the years – those I have been fortunate enough to meet and those I haven’t, like Louise Vava Lucia Henriette Le Bailly de la Falaise. (I know!).
A style icon
Loulou was probably best known as Yves Saint Laurent’s muse. Such was her influence that people would speak of ‘Yves Saint Loulou’, when discussing his latter collections for the fashion house. Loulou shone – with an interesting mix of French elegance, bohemian eccentricity and worldly exoticism. She was a true original, with a playfulness and humour that explains how she maintained a style that was whimsical and youthful, even in her later years. She died in 2011, aged 63, but her style still speaks to me and I’m seeing her in fashion everywhere right now.
8 top tips for getting the Loulou look
Loulou would have loved the folkloric essence of Dodo Bar Or and Vita Kin, the bold cottons at Fendi and interesting, crisp shirting at Palmer Harding. These are my picks though:
1. White and oversized.
Your whites don’t have to be new. Vintage cotton has a wonderful, starchy feel that looks even better with a bit of a crumple. Grab a man’s vintage dress shirt (I’ve found good ones at The Old Electric Shop in Hay On Wye, the Es Canar market in Ibiza…you might even get lucky in Oxfam). Wear over a bikini for a cool alternative to a floaty cover-up.
An old french bed sheet, torn (not cut) into a large strip, looks great. Refer to Liberty’s handy box of scarf styling cards to help you perfect your headscarf tying (below, £15. A great gift). Of course, the look works all the better for being on a yacht in the Med.
3. Get your folk on
For one, fun, folky piece look to Vita Kin, who has made traditional Ukraine style a fashion statement. Her influence has filtered down onto the high street but the real deal is beautifully embroidered and worth every penny.
Dodo Bar Or‘s collection has the same bohemian feel, slightly cheaper and made from ultra soft cotton.
4. Colour burst.
MSGM has made me happy this season with a brilliant, machine washable top in the perfect shade of red. For something more slinky, Stella McCartney has an orange silk shirt (£395, at net-a-porter). For both, just add jeans.
5. Vintage denim vibe.
Speaking of jeans, I can’t think of anyone who would have rocked these better than Loulou. A high waist, a 70’s leg and a vintage wash. How fitting that they are from the new Saint Laurent collection. £420 at Matchesfashion.com
6. Load up on gems.
Loulou de La Falaise was famed for her accessories. For Loulou-inspired bling, check out Vestiaire or Re-See, where you can find exceptional vintage pieces from prestigious brands. It’s also worth scouring antique markets (such as Alfie’s in London). Don’t save big, bold jewellery for special occasions.
How about a bistrot-chair turned clutch bag to perk up your summer look? This one gets my vote, not just because you can practically wash sticky fingers and sand off it. Balenciaga woven bistrot clutch, £765 at Browns.
8. Loulou on a budget
The headscarf again – this time look on Ebay for a lungi dhoti sarong. Mirrored shades can be found at Camden Market for around £5. Add Nars lipstick in Niagara for a perfect, peachy lip – it’s the coral that suits everyone.
Loulou photographed by Eric Bowman, 1972.
If I haven’t given you enough, you can read/see more in this book. I admit I bought it for the cover (I’m a sucker for anything by Rizzoli) but it’s as readable as it is beautiful.
In the meantime, I’m off to Lanzarote. To channel Loulou. See you next week.