In my very early modelling days, when I was unbearably thin and very self-conscious, I was hired as a ‘fit’ model for the house Yves Saint Laurent. Being dressed in nothing more than a white lab coat, a flesh colored g-string and black patent heels, as high as the Eiffel tower, I would wait with two or three other models, in silence, in a small sterile room, nestling just off the ‘Salon’ a luxurious room with blood red walls, swaged chandeliers, oversized mirrors, velvet pelmet curtains and petite gilt chairs, where the venerable old ladies of couture would perch during private appointments.
We could sometimes wait all day in that room and never be called upstairs for a fitting but when Monsieur Saint Laurent entered the elegant couture house, on the Avenue Marceau, you would know at once. The rise in tension was palpable. Now summoned upstairs to the studio, I would be ushered onto a platform, asked to remove the lab coat and stand virtually stark naked, before a room filled with strangers, who began to drape and pin the finest silks over our frigid little bodies, as the shy designer directed from behind his iconic oversized glasses. Yves Saint Laurent, the master.
I never ‘walked’ for Saint Laurent. I was considered too short. Other designers used me for their catwalk although not often but never Saint Laurent. I did graduate beyond the studio and was photographed in his clothes, occasionally, and with the requisite drama, thigh high boots, tuxedo jacket, or monster blow dry.
The world of couture has changed dramatically; the customers no longer are buying for diplomatic balls, fundraisers and funerals but for the disco and day wear. It’s young and exciting and above all it’s survived. Although my mother’s generation are tut-tutting in disapproval….both Dior and Chanel showed their collections this season paired with trainers on the models feet and one young Russian customer seated in row ‘A’ came dressed for the presentation in a pair of jeans. A PAIR OF JEANS.
Haute Couture is pulsing again, with new talent and fresh front row faces, but the legends of past will never fade. Well not in my mind. How could I ever forget this hair do?