Christian Lacroix’s Aristocratic Muse

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Fashion lost a muse this past November with the death of the gray haired fashion maven, Marie Seznec Martinez. Known for her longstanding association with Christian Lacroix, ranging from muse to a client liaison, Seznec lead a full, fashionable life.

Thin and tall, with vibrant white hair, Seznec’s look was fully natural. “I found my first grey hair when I was just 14,” Seznec has 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.” This acceptance of aging helped turn her into a long lasting fashion icon.

Born and raised in Brittany, Seznec’s first introduction into fashion 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 at French Elle. This editor had her model in the magazine’s December 1982 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!”

Seznec found work with a variety of high-end fashion designers, like Thierry Mugler, Hermes and Yohji Yamamoto. Her grey hair paired with a youthful, beautiful face attracted higher-end designers. It even caught the attention of Christian Lacroix, then at the couture house Jean Patou in the 1980’s.

The first time she appeared on a Patou runway, Lacroix ordered hairdresser Alexandre de Paris to make her into a modern day Madame de Pompadour, which was later recreated on the cover of W magazine.

This relationship between Lacroix and Seznec lasted from his time at Patou to his own personal couture line. Lacroix’s background was in fashion history, and Seznec’s look reminded him of an 18th century aristocrat. Working as both a fit and fashion model for Lacroix, Seznec was an important part to the house’s image. She later became the line’s ambassador, and even inspired Lacroix to give his instore mannequins grey hair.

Seznec took a break from the colorful walls of Lacroix’s salon to get married. As expected, her gown was a custom-made satin dresssuit made by Lacroix. For the reception, she changed into a powder pink chiffon, taffeta ball gown that was also specially made for her. After spending some time as a married woman, she found herself back with Lacroix in 1994.

Searching for a Directrice to manage his couture salon, Lacroix thought Seznec was perfect for the role. This is a powerful position, because it plays a vital role in working with high paying customers. Seznec’s charming personality and knowledge about the brand was a perfect combination in advising Lacroix’s super wealthy patrons. She remained in the position until 2009. At the age of 57, Seznec sadly passed away from cancer.

Seznec’s gray hair piled above a youthful face while outfitted in Lacroix’s clothing will always be a moment of fashion history where muse and maker combined. Just like her appearance, Seznec and Lacroix’s friendship was one of a kind.

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