How to get the formidable style of Loulou de la Falaise

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!).

Loulou photographed by Eric Malanga in 1971

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.

Loulou and Yves Saint Laurent. Le Monde

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.

For the elegant, easy Riviera vibe that Loulou did so well, you can’t beat a white dress. My favourite of the spring summer 2017 collections is this one by Rochas, coming soon to Matchesfashion.com.

Rochas backless dress. Image courtesy of matchesfashion.com

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.

Loulou at sea. Image courtesy of NY Times.

2. Scarves

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

Loulou outside the original Rive Gauche boutique, Elle Magazine.

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.

Pandora Sykes wearing Vita Kin. Image courtesy of pandorasykes.com

Vita Kin dress, around £1100 at Farfetch.com. Image courtesy of The Sunday Times

Dodo Bar Or‘s collection has the same bohemian feel, slightly cheaper and made from ultra soft cotton.

Nathaniel top by Dodo Bar Or. Around £250. Image courtesy of Nawo.com

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.

MSGM top, £240 at matchesfashion.com.

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

Saint Laurent mid-rise flared jeans. Image courtesy of 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.

Loulou at home in Paris. Image by Pascal Chevalier, courtesy of Vogue Espana.

Chanel purple resin bangle set, 250 euros at Re-See.com

Christian Lacroix vintage couture necklace, 590 euros at Re-See.com

7. Clutch

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.

Balenciaga clutch, £765 at brownsfashion.com

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.

My well-thumbed book, published by Rizzoli

In the meantime, I’m off to Lanzarote. To channel Loulou. See you next week.