Christopher Petkanas is an American author and journalist who has written for The New York Times, Vogue, and Architectural Digest. He knew and wrote about Loulou de La Falaise during the many years he lived in France, starting in the early '80s. He currently resides in New York City.
"Loulou de La Falaise was "a cross between Holly Golightly and Sally Bowles," in the words of Andr Leon Talley -- though you might also think of her as Cosette from "Les Mis rables," grown up to become the heroine of a Jackie Collins novel. A paragon of effortless glamour, Loulou twice married well ("I am not a gold digger or anything like that, but I usually do manage to get a castle. ... My two husbands both have fabulous ones") and, living a life brimming with sex, drugs and cosmopolitan clat, charmed her way to the top of the international fashion order by becoming the longtime muse to Yves Saint Laurent, who imbued his designs with her turbans-and-tunics chic only to leave her with nothing.
Petkanas opts for oral history, letting de La Falaise (who died in 2011) and her flashy circle tell her tale. What results is an affirmation of both the fashion industry as a pit of facile, well-accessorized vipers and the fascination that de La Falaise engendered, due not only to her role as haute gamine but to her indifference to the whole glittering shebang. The more she telegraphed that she didn't care, the more they did. The book -- assembled from 153 original interviews, along with countless excerpts from letters, diary entries, articles and other ephemera -- takes the reader on a dizzying carousel ride around hundreds of boldface European names and the details of their louche lives in the '70s and '80s. Even for those not invested in the minutiae of the jet set, it's a literary champagne cocktail that goes down easy as it sloshes from quote to quote, each one scandalous, wry, vicious, knowing or salacious, and often all five. Petkanas delivers a meticulous dissection of our endless fascination with the modish, bewitching women who refuse to let us in, and upon whom we project our fantasies, desires, even our hatred."
--Michael Callahan, The New York Times Book Review ..". the
high-fashion world of yesteryear... has been brought back to life
in a compulsively readable oral history, Loulou & Yves: The Untold
Story of Loulou de La Falaise and the House of Saint
Laurent--though that tome likewise has some lessons we might all
take on board... So what does it really mean to be a designer's
'muse'? Read the book and find out."--Vanessa Friedman, The New
York Times "The legendary LouLou de la Falaise and Thadee
Klossowski... Paloma Picasso and Bianca Jagger... the late Pierre
Berge and Yves Saint Laurent... Baronne Guy de Rothschild, social
queen of Paris! Read all about these sacred monsters in Christopher
Petkanas['s] LouLou and Yves. This book is an oral biography of
Paris fashion between the glittering years when LouLou was the
light between all the characters! It's a modern Balzac history! You
will want to give the book and also read it. It soars! It roars!
Petkanas has achieved in this book, a smash artistic hit...
absorb[ing] you in the history of high fashion in the 70s."--Andr
Leon Talley, fashion journalist and subject of the documentary "The
World According to Andr " "Red-hot."--Fern Mallis, host of "Fashion
Icons with Fern Mallis" at the 92nd Street Y, NYC "A must
read!"--Sandra Bernhard, actress, comedian and host of Sandyland on
SiriusXM..". at 495 pages, [Loulou & Yves] will no doubt prove
essential reading for anyone fascinated with the Saint Laurent
legend." --Joelle Diderich, Women's Wear Daily
"[Loulou & Yves] ruffles fancy feathers."--Richard Johnson, New York Post
"Like all good biographies, Loulou & Yves... is a portrait of not just its subject... but of her place and time... The result is a crackling good read with a pleasing superabundance of salt, wit and dish; even the contributor bios are snarky."--Nell Baram, Shelf Awareness, MainStreet BookEnds"For 30 years, [Loulou de La Falaise] helped Saint Laurent see things through rose-coloured glasses. A new book reveals why the troubled designer was drawn to his right-hand woman's more-is-more style... As detailed in Christopher Petkanas's... Loulou & Yves, De la Falaise was by Yves Saint Laurent's side for 30 years."--Lauren Cochrane, The Guardian"From the book: 'On the theory that everyone loves a cocktail party, and because people with a drink in their hand tend to be candid, Loulou & Yves traces Loulou's life chronologically through the memories of more than two hundred voices: husbands, lovers, extended family, friends, enemies, slightly less bitter detractors, colleagues, groupies, Yves, pundits, hangers-on and Grace Jones.' The good news is that you are all invited to eavesdrop on every morsel of information and tidbit of gossip that so many so freely offer at this 'party.'
--Jeffrey Felner, New York Journal of Books