Plain Tiger Spotlight: Loulou de la Falaise

A muse immortalised

By Renee Fortune

Yves Henri Donat Mathieu-Saint-Laurent; fondly referred to as Yves Saint Laurent, founded his eponymous fashion label in 1962 and swiftly became one of the most ubiquitous designers of the twentieth century.

Ten years later he hired a woman to join his team of designers. She had no official title or description when she joined the brand. But, just a few years later, she would become synonymous with the bohemian-chic accessories that added the artist’s flourish to Yves’s trademark feminine edge. Her name was Loulou de la Falaise. And her style was unforgettable. 

A meeting of minds

It’s almost impossible to pigeon-hole Loulou’s influence on Yves Saint Laurent – both the person and the brand. She designed YSL’s jewellery lines, but she was also Yves’s muse and alter-ego. 

Loulou had no formal design training, but worked closely with the ateliers at YSL to create jewellery pieces that became associated with an eclectic, flamboyant aesthetic. As many have said, she brought the spirit of the 70s to YSL – a sense of reckless abandonment to the whims of form, shape, line and most importantly, colour. 

Yves has been quoted as saying: “It is important to have Loulou beside me when I work on a collection. Her presence at my side is a dream.”

In many ways, Loulou understood Yves and admired his flair for tailored silhouettes and elegant lines. But she also challenged him to push past his creative boundaries into the world of the romantic, the ethereal, and the deliciously unconventional. 

A tribute to the remarkable

Loulou worked alongside a number of gifted minds and design thinkers, one of whom was Ariel de Ravenel, former fashion editor and stylist, who would become Loulou’s trusted confidante, friend and business partner as the years progressed. 

Upon Loulou’s passing in 2011, it was Ariel’s wish to continue her esteemed colleague’s legacy of pristine craftsmanship and artistic ingenuity. What followed was the launch of a brand, dedicated to keeping the talent and memory of Loulou de la Falaise alive. 
Reflecting on time spent in pursuit of creative inspiration, Ariel says: “When I first met Loulou, I was immediately captivated by her unique sense of style. Later, I had the good fortune of being able to work with her side by side, and share extraordinarily inspiring and joyful, creative moments. 

We spent countless hours at her studio in Paris and traveled extensively. I often return in memory to those wonderful adventures, reliving the magic of the time we spent together. India stands out as our shared sanctuary – for us it exemplified what we were both passionate about: colour, colour, and more colour.”

Loulou de la Falaise, the brand

Each piece in the collection is handmade at a small-scale atelier in Paris using similar techniques to those used to make precious jewellery. The use of glass paste allows the artisans to introduce unique colourways to each piece, combining different shades and hues to produce wearable kaleidoscopes that dance in the light. Pearls and semi-precious stones abound in the collection, which embraces the harmony of texture, colour and shape, bringing a sense of warmth and playfulness to the designs. 

Sustainability is top of mind for Ariel and her team of artisans. All materials are sourced in France and the majority of the pieces are created using poured glass and brass, both of which can be melted, reused and recycled. The process from end-to-end is designed to use as little water as possible and the pieces are produced in small batches to minimise waste.

These factors are brought together in a beautiful, artistic symphony that materialises in unique designs like the Les Larmes Bi-Colours, two tone sleeper earrings which exist at the intersection of celestial glass and lavish, 24K gold plating. In another colour combination that comes alive in glass and gold, the Sequin Necklace brings together cabochons of red, green and thistle – the rustic hues of an Autumn day. 

Many of the designs are reproductions of Loulou’s own work, complemented by updated designs that are reminiscent of the places Ariel has been, the fascinating people she has met and the things of the tangible world that celebrate what it means to truly express who you are through what you wear.

So here’s to Loulou. And Ariel. And the creatives still to come. May we all come to own a piece of the magic. 
$844.00 USD
$138.00 USD
$138.00 USD
$138.00 USD