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Marie Seznec was known as the couture client liaison for Christian Lacroix, but she had another role that was just as important, one of a grey-haired muse. “I found my first grey hair when I was just 14,” she said. “ All my family had grey hair; my parents, grandparents, my brothers and sisters. Because I was the youngest of a family of five I wasn’t shocked at all.”
Born and raised in Brittany, Seznec’s first introduction to the industry was through her family’s boutique. “I loved fashion and I liked staring into the store’s windows,” Seznec said. “Although my parents worked in the fashion business, they were also artists. My father drew all the time, and my mother embroidered.”
After childhood, Seznec went to study fashion at Studio Bercot. While as a student, she was spotted by an editor of Elle France. This editor had her photographed for the magazine’s 1982 December issue, which attracted the modeling agency, Marilyn.
Speaking about her qualifications as a model, Seznec said, “At 5’-6” I wasn’t very tall compared to other models in the ‘80s who were at least 5’-8”. Today you have to be 6 feet!”
Her grey hair paired with her youthful, beautiful face attracted high-end designers, and she found work with Thierry Mugler, Hermes, and Yohji Yamamoto. Her unique look even caught the attention of Christian Lacroix, then at the couture house Jean Patou.
The first time she appeared on a Patou runway, Lacroix ordered hairdresser Alexandre de Paris to make Seznec into a modern-day Madame de Pompadour, which was later recreated for the cover of W.
A friendship between Lacroix and Seznec traveled from his time at Patou to his own personal couture line. She worked as both a fit and fashion model for the house and was an essential part of the line’s image. She later became an ambassador for Lacroix, and even inspired him to give his in-store mannequins grey hair.
Seznec then took a break from the colorful walls of Lacroix’s salon to get married. As expected, her gown was a custom-made satin dress suit made by Lacroix. For the reception, she changed into a powder pink chiffon and taffeta ballgown that was also made by the designer. After spending some time as a married woman, she found herself back to fashion in 1994 and became the Directrice of the designer’s couture salon.
Seznec’s new position held a lot of power because it worked directly with high paying customers. To attract and maintain clients, she used her charming personality and immense knowledge about the brand, which was cultivated through years of experience. She remained in this position until 2009, and at the age of 57, Seznec sadly passed away from cancer.
Seznec’s grey hair while outfitted in Lacroix’s clothing will always be a moment of fashion history where muse and maker combined. However, what may be more important is the relationship between the designer and his trusted friend. Just like her beauty, Seznec and Lacroix’s friendship was one of a kind.