Loulou danced into the dawn in the basement of Le Sept, Fabrice Emaer’s nightclub, where gay boys and straight girls simulated sex to endless disco and Motown on the tiny dance floor. Loulou’s boyfriends were as varied as the banker Eric de Rothschild, the actor Hiram Keller, and the Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill, who was designing a postmodern city on the edge of Paris—and she caroused an awful lot with the designer Kenzo Takada.
In May 1977, a telegram announced Loulou’s marriage to Thadée Klossowski, the son of the painter Balthus, who as far as anyone knew was the boyfriend of Clara Saint. For the wedding, Loulou wore a high white turban with a brooch and feathers; a white Zouave costume festooned with ropes of pearls, a red sash, and a white silk cord; white stockings; and silver court shoes. It was as formal as the uniform of an Indian prince taking up his duties, as playful as a costume out of an attic trunk, as precise as couture. The ball to celebrate the wedding took place on an island in Paris’s Bois de Boulogne. Loulou was done up as the Queen of the Night, in draped blue fabric with stars and with a big crescent moon perched on her head, and we all danced till dawn.
Their daughter, Anna Baladine, was born in early 1986 and christened at the Church of Saint-Sulpice. Loulou and Thadée lived in a double-height-ceiling apartment in Montparnasse, their bed a Venetian affair that sat in the middle of the main room under a chandelier that held hundreds of real candles.
It felt as if that world was going to last forever. The clan survived friends’ deaths to AIDS and feuds and splits; it survived the sale of Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche to Gucci Group in 1999. But after Yves retired from couture in 2002, things were no longer the same. Loulou started her own company, making clothes she sold in two boutiques in Paris. When those closed in 2007, she and Ariel de Ravenel, a bohemian aristo who had worked for YSL Beauté, went on the road selling Loulou’s extravagant accessories to stores and on the Home Shopping Network. Loulou and Thadée gave up the apartment for a house in the country, an hour from Paris. Loulou the Tinkerbell muse became an obsessive gardener.
The leaves fell off the branches of the trees. Fernando Sánchez died in 2006; Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008. Loulou de la Falaise died unexpectedly last November, after a well-concealed illness, at her home.
In the exquisite center of an exquisite universe, only the senior members survive into their 80s: Pierre Bergé, Charlotte Aillaud. The grown-ups are still around; the radiant children left first.