Christian Lacroix’s Aristocratic Muse

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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.

How Cicely Tyson Introduced Natural Hair To Television Audiences

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At Victoria’s Secret last annual fashion show, the American lingerie line debuted a look that had never appeared on their runway before, natural hair. Angolan model Maria Borges walked onto the runway before millions with her hair in its natural state, a short Afro-textured pixie.

This “reveal” was praised by the press, announcing it as a visual step towards accepting more diversity in fashion. However, this wasn’t the first time that a gorgeous woman revealed her natural Afro-textured hair to a watching audience. In the early 1960s, an emerging actress named Cicely Tyson used her natural hair texture to make a loud statement.

It all began when Tyson was selected to perform in a 1960s television production that, according to the actress, “dealt with the emerging African nations.” At the time, Tyson wore her hair straightened but she felt the style was improper for her character. So on the night before the first live production, Tyson went to a barbershop and asked the barber to cut her hair short and dry it to its natural state. Tyson said to Oprah’s Master Class that the barber had to sit down and take a break before he finished the look.

The next day, Tyson arrived with her hair wrapped in a headscarf, and when it was time to film, she dropped the scarf. The crew went silent. Tyson said that you could “hear a hair hit the floor.” The director then walked up to her and said, “Cicely, you cut your hair.” She sheepishly nodded her head and said, yes. He then told her that he wanted her to do it but he never knew if it was appropriate to ask her to cut it.

Tyson’s hair transformation into a short afro was a major beauty statement in the 1960s. This was a time where Black faces were rare, especially with women. If present, they were expected to look “Europeanized,” meaning they had straight hair. Tyson’s simple haircut was a major, and historical, transformation for both beauty and racial history in America. It even sparked a worldwide hair movement.

Although Borges’ hair on Victoria’s Secret runway and Tyson’s haircut in the 1960s are unrelated, the fact that the lingerie model’s hair still makes news is something to think about.

The Southern France Chic Of Renée Perle

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Portrait of Renee Perle by Jacques-Henri Lartigue via The Red List

One of the most fascinating aspects about Renée Perle’s wardrobe was her use of separates as resort wear in 1930s Southern France. Most of the photos taken of Renée by photographer Jacques-Henri Lartigue were in a warm climate, which called for light and airy fabrics. Numerous images feature Renée in a uniform of a crisp short sleeve T-shirt or sleeveless tank paired with loose trousers. While Renée could work a ball gown, she looked as glamorous in a knit top and pants.

Born in Romania to a Jewish family, Renée Perle left Central Europe for the glamor of 1920s Paris. There, she began her career as a model posing for artists. In between 1929 to 1930, Renée met Jacques-Henri Lartigue, who was newly separated from his first wife Bibi, on the Rue de la Pompe. Lartigue found Renée’s large brown eyes and deep tan skin as exotic. He once wondered out loud if she was Mexican, but she corrected him, stating “Romanian…my name is Renée Perle…”

They quickly hit it off and became a couple. Together the couple traveled to the most glamorous place one could be in the 1930s, the South of France. Renée was more than just a pretty girl posing in front of the camera, she created a look that accentuated Lartigue’s aesthetic. In many of their photos together, Renée’s clothing, hair, and makeup are flawless. Her look consisted of Marcel waves, cupid bow lips, dark-painted nails, and multiple bangles around her wrist.

Renée and Lartigue ended their relationship two years after they met. Unfortunately, there is not much known about Renée after her parting with Lartigue, except that she continued her career as a model and ventured into creating her own art. Many of Renée’s pieces were self-portraits, making some people assume that she was obsessed with painting her image. There have been attempts to try to find any of her art pieces, but there has not been any luck. When Renée passed away in the late 1970’s in the South of France some of her jewelry and other belongings were auctioned in 2000 and 2001 at the Parisian auction house Tajan.

Websites like the now-defunct Style.com claimed her as one of their beauty icons, and designers like John Galliano have called her a “Parisian kittenish coquette.” Although she modeled over eighty years ago, the stylish legacy of Renée Perle is unforgettable.

Jane Holzer’s Art Scene Style

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When thinking about a Warhol Star, Edie Sedgwick almost always comes to mind. However, there was another girl about town that shined in Andy Warhol’s eye. Meet Jane Holzer.

Recognized for her swoosh of blonde hair and on-trend style, Jane Holzer is a well-known socialite both on and off the New York art scene. Vogue editor Diana Vreeland once dubbed her, “The most contemporary girl I know.”

Born into a wealthy family, Jane entered fashion society in 1963 as a cover model for British Vogue. Sometime during this period, she met Andy Warhol.

Jane appealed to Warhol because of her hip beauty and wealthy connections. Her work with Warhol consisted of performing in a number of his art films, including the iconic “Screen Test,” which filmed Jane brushing her teeth for over four minutes.

After shooting multiple films with Warhol, Jane left The Factory “between Edie’s arrival and when Andy got shot.” Although she has been affiliated with Warhol, Jane isn’t remembered for the extensive drug use and partying that plagued The Factory. She still had an amicable relationship with Warhol until his 1987 death. In 2014, the Norton Museum of Art held the exhibition “To Jane, Love Andy: Warhol’s First Superstar,” that displayed works of art, fashion, and photography of Jane.

Some may identify her with the name Baby Jane, which is a reference to the 1962 film “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?” It was columnist Carol Bjorkman who gave her the moniker, but for no apparent reason. When asked about her opinion of the nickname, Jane has stated that she “wanted to die” after hearing it.

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Jane Holzer’s Clothing via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jane’s style in the 1960s was rock n’ roll on 5th Avenue; it was au courant without excessive embellishments. She mixed classic with sexy by wearing a micro mini dress that covered up to her neck or a long-sleeved bodysuit with a revealing back. When paired with her gravity-defying hair and cat-eye makeup, Jane was a striking figure.

Today, Jane continues to sport her signature blonde mane and now wears loose, bohemian gowns. She is still present on the New York art scene and makes a living as a movie producer. Jane has even been seen on the short-lived reality show “Gallery Girls” as a listening ear to socialites in the New York art scene. Although The Factory’s party has ended, it appears Jane’s is still going strong.

Political Fashion: Rebiya Kadeer

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Political activists voice their messages through a variety of mediums. From emotionally charged speeches to hunger strikes, activists want their messages to be heard. Activist and businesswoman Rebiya Kadeer not only speaks her message, but she also wears it.

A businesswoman turned activist, Kadeer is a Chinese national, Uyghur-ethnic woman. The Uyghur people are a Turkic ethnic minority located in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. Today, the Uyghur community is considered a controversial group in China due to a large majority being Muslims. Many in the Uyghur community believe the Chinese government has treated the group in racist and unjust ways. Kadeer is an activist who uses her money and persona to gain global support for the Uyghur community, although some have accused her of aiding terrorist activity.

Today as one of the most visible Uyghurs in the world, Kadeer fashions herself in modern business suits with long braids and a doppa skullcap to show her connection to the Uyghur people. The doppa is a round or square cloth hat with Turkic origins and is not common headwear for the communist country. When wearing her doppa, Kadeer is showcasing Uighur identity not only to the Chinese government but also to the world.

Before becoming an activist, Kadeer was a successful businesswoman. She earned millions and became one of the richest people in China. Next, she became a politician and was appointed to the Chinese National People’s Congress. During this time she fashioned herself as a wealthy woman. Wearing lots of makeup with bouffant hair, Kadeer swathed herself in scarves and chic business suits. However, this all changed when she was imprisoned by China for leaking state secrets in 1991. In 2005 Kadeer gained her freedom and left the county, but only after the urging of civil rights groups and the United States.

Despite living outside of her native country, Kadeer continues to advocate for the rights of the Uyghur people through marches and even a hunger strike. Her commitment to appear visibly Muslim is as strong as her mission, which can be dangerous in this heightened time of Islamophobia.

Kadeer is taking on one of the most powerful countries in the world and she’s sticking to her look. To learn more about the Uyghur people, visit the Uyghur American Association.