#relacoespublicas #rp #rpmoda #pr #publicrelations » 2014 » Novembro » 3 » Bettina will always be Bettina in Galerie Azzedine Alaïa
16:03Bettina will always be Bettina in Galerie Azzedine Alaïa
In spite of her father’s departure from the family in Elbeuf, a region of Normandy, when Bettina was six months old, she and her sister Catherine, who was three years older, had a happy childhood. Raised by a warm and loving mother who was a nursery school teacher, their lives were filled with learning, and Bettina was encouraged to study painting when only twelve.
When war broke out, she and her sister were sent to stay with their grandmother in Angers. When their grandmother was killed in a bombing raid, the two girls moved to Agen before returning to Elbeuf, where they lived until the Liberation four years later. Bettina emerged from these difficult years, and from several brushes with death, unscathed and perhaps stronger, having learnt that she was naturally fearless. Her strength of character continued to grow and she proved to be an exceptionally well-balanced person. Her faith in life and her vitality were assets that encouraged her to take unusual decisions on her journey through life. Bettina loved living in the present too much to worry about her future.
Like all girls of her age, Bettina dreamed. But unlike most, she soon began to live out her dreams. Having seen Janine Charrat dancing The Dying Swan at the cinema one day, she immediately decided to become a dancer. She made herself a pair of ballet shoes by stuffing the toes of some espadrilles and began to learn to dance with a friend who was equally inexperienced but equally enthusiastic. A few months later they appeared on stage at a local youth club party. There Bettina caught the eye of an American dancer who gave her a pair of real ballet shoes and taught her barre exercises and tap dancing. Bettina turned out to have superb posture and an instinctive sense of pose.
Now eighteen, she needed to earn her own living so decided to go and live in Paris, something she had longed to do ever since her sister Catherine, a dental technician, had moved there. Whenever Catherine returned to Elbeuf, she would be dressed in the latest Parisian fashions and her little sister was tremendously impressed by these outfits. Bettina saw them as the epitome of chic and loved trying on her sister’s dresses, shoes and silk stockings. Reailizing that there was no future for her in Normandy, Bettina launched herself into the unknown with more ambition than resources. She travelled to Paris, intent on becoming not a dancer, but with her art lessons showing promise, a fashion designer.
Like many young women, her first job was caring for the children of a family in Avenue de Villiers. Shortly afterwards, she arranged an interview with Jacques Costet, a young couturier who had recently opened his showrooms at 4, Rue de la Paix. That interview was to change her life. The young couturier, dressed with élégance zazou – a rather eccentric French fashion of the early 1940s – was in fact less interested in her designs than in the beauty of the woman herself. Costet ended the interview by asking Bettina to try on a magnificent dress. When she came out of the changing room, she found the assembled staff of the couture house waiting for her in the main salon – and that moment sealed her fate. She dazzled them all with her unaffected manner and natural poise. Costet surprised her by saying: ‘Come back this afternoon. You will start as a model!’
The second chapter of Bettina’s life began as she embarked on an extraordinary and immensely successful twelve-year career.
On the afternoon of the interview with Costet, 1 June 1945, she herself did not model. Instead she watched the other models, observing the feverish haste with which they changed, hearing the nervous yelps when their skin caught in their zips, noting the speed with which they did their hair, skilfully draped their shawls and reached for their bags, umbrellas and other accessories.
The next day she modelled her first collection in front of an audience which was enthralled and delighted by her refreshing inexperience. Her pretty face and round cheeks, her freckles, her innate grace, everything about her conspired to captivate the clients.
She was now in a position to leave the Avenue de Villiers and abandon her babysitting duties, and she moved into a tiny flat on the Rue Raynouard with Toni, another of Costet’s models. This was to be only a brief interlude on her road to independence and to finding a place of her own.
Her starting salary was low and so luxuries were out of the question. Lunching on a sandwich and dining on a cup of coffee, it was not difficult to keep her perfect figure. She did not know many people and could not afford the trip back to Elbeuf often. This was far from the high life she had imagined – no cinemas or theatres and few restaurants, but still her faith in the future remained indestructible.
The very first photographs of her date back to the Costet period, by which time she had already caught the eye of the Seeberger brothers, who introduced her to the world of the visual image.
A year later Bettina fell in love with Benno Graziani and left Jacques Costet’s couture house. She abandoned her career to be with Benno and they spent their first year together in Juan-
Ies-Pins. Having returned to Paris in December 1946, where they got married, the former model decided to go back to work and
made an appointment with Lucien Lelong. On the way to his office, she met a slightly chubby young man who approached her timidly, saying: ‘If Monsieur Lelong does not employ you, I will, because I am about to open my own couture house.’ It was Christian Dior! However, Lelong did take her on but she quickly became bored and left. Her next move was to Jacques Fath. When she turned up at his couture house, Fath welcomed her in his usual friendly fashion and took her on at once.
It was Fath who christened her Bettina. Their meeting marked the beginning of her metamorphosis and her life changed yet again. It was a happy time when everything she did was a success and her salary rocketed, increasing fivefold. The Fath couture house, in a magnificently furnished mansion on the Avenue Pierre-Ier-de-Serbie, was extremely friendly and welcoming and the models’ changing room was one of the prettiest in Paris. Bettina made friends with Louise, Doudou, Tulipe and Renée, but it was Sophie, who was later to marry the producer Anatol Litvak, who became her best friend.
At that time, every couture house had to have its own models, who were attached to a particular couturier and presented and showed only his designs. The meeting between Bettina and Fath heralded the creation of a new style.
From the time Bettina first presented one of his collections, Jacques Fath created some thirty dresses for her. He was not particularly inspired by the ‘New Look’, so designed clothes with simple lines that only Bettina knew how to wear in such a way as to make them look both chic and natural. Fath created a genuine style for her. Indeed, at only 5’ 5», Bettina was hardly the archetypal model. Her appeal was different – she was natural and fresh, graceful and lively. Her air of chic provided a refreshing contrast to the sophistication that made most of the models of that period look so frozen and stiff.
She became Fath’s muse and quite often she was the one who suggested the ideas which he then elaborated. Fath presented Bettina everywhere as his star model, although fortunately the loathsome term ‘top model’ had not yet been coined. The public was charmed and the name Bettina came to stand for modernity and elegance.
Her career took off also in front of the camera and soon all the fashion magazines wanted pictures of her. Jean Chevalier, one of the great photographers of the time, was also artistic director of the magazine Elle, the magazine created and edited by Hélène Lazareff. Chevalier introduced the two women and their meeting resulted in Bettina’s first cover photo. The three of them got on well together and during that time Bettina was often featured on the most prominent pages of the magazine. Hélène Lazareff was the undisputed fashion guru of her time and her influence could make or break a career. She was particularly fond of Bettina and the young model became a regular guest at the sacrosanct Sunday lunches that Pierre and Hélène Lazareff gave in their house in Louveciennes, near Paris, to which all the famous names of the era were invited. It was a kind of consecration for Bettina, who was introduced to the most talented figures in politics, the arts, literature and, of course, fashion.
Naturally gifted, Bettina had become the top cover girl in France within a matter of months. She captivated Vogue, which used her on their covers, and soon everyone who counted in the fashion press was after her.
Little by little, she learnt to make use of her face and to employ alI the secrets of make-up.
She camouflaged her freckles with white foundation and hollowed out her cheeks by applying black shadow beneath her cheekbones. She emphasized her eyes with elegant black lines which made them appear both larger and brighter, and Irving Penn taught her how black lipstick could be used to create a contrast to the white of her face. She spent hours experimenting, transforming her appearance and creating a sophisticated image for herself. But being a star model involved having to look divine even in the most uncomfortable positions, and here Bettina was unrivalled! Courage, good temper and hard work were the better part of the ‘Bettina’ phenomenon.
Jacques Fath put the finishing touches on her new image by sending her to Georgel, the most highly reputed hairdressing salon of the time, and asking the master himself to cut her magnificent red mane. He had imported a new look from America and Bettina emerged from Georgel’s salon almost shaven, with her hair
cropped to within half an inch of her scalp. Paris Match immediately did a feature on the ‘most photographed woman in France’ and hundreds of admiring women hastened to copy her crew cut. Bettina had launched a new fashion and Fath created his famous series of rose-buttoned blouses especially for the occasion. Despite her dizzying success and pressures to change houses, she remained faithful to Fath for a long time.
She did a great many photo shoots and all the world’s top fashion photographers fought over her; among them Irving Penn, Dick Dormer, Norman Parkinson, Erwin Blumenfeld, Henry Clarke, Gordon Parks and Jean-Philippe Charbonnier. Even Henri Cartier-Bresson, who was normally so anti-fashion photography, was enthralled by her and photographed her in an informal setting, producing magnificent pictures. By the age of twenty-two, she had become the most famous model of her time.
At the request of the great American photographer Irving Penn, for whom she had already posed in Paris, Vogue invited Bettina to the United States, where she joined the famous and recently opened Eileen Ford agency in June 1950. The life of a model in New York was quite different from that in Paris, where good humour always prevailed. Nothing was left to chance in America! The regime was one of strict discipline and everything was calculated, timed and checked at a time when modelling agencies did not yet exist in Paris.
Back to Paris, she parted ways with Benno and moved to the Hôtel Montaigne, by the Bar des Théâtres. It was a lively, bustling area, the heart of artistic life in Paris, and only a stone’s throw from the couture house of Fath, her friend, counsellor and confidant.
Bettina was now single and adored. Her next love was older and from another world, that of publishing. He gave her a new outlook on culture and introduced her to the literati of Paris. Gaston Gallimard became a true friend, followed by Louis Guilloux, William Faulkner, Joseph Kessel, Georges Simenon, Jean Genet and Jacques Prévert, who wrote a poem about her for a set of articles in the Album du Figaro.
|Total de comentários: 0|