Monday, 14 December 2009

yesterday's muse # 16 - maxime de la falaise

once refered to as "the only truly chic englishwoman" by photographer Cecil Beaton, Maxime de la Falaise (born Maxime Berley), was a fashion model, actress, food maven, clothing designer and matriarch of a three-generation clan of international couture models. Maxime was born to an aristocratic and artistic family, and grew up in an 11th century manor in West Sussex, England. her father was a portrait painter to the Queen, and her mother, an eccentric Irish beauty who often made fancy lobster dishes, and then fed them to her roses.

Maxime would model for the top designers and photographers of her time, the trendsetter was a close friend of Yves St. Laurent and Andy Warhol, the latter of whom cast her in Andy Warhol's Dracula in 1974. in the course of her career, de la Falaise designed couture, sportswear, ready-to-wear and boutique clothes for various houses, as well as furniture and rugs, and was a food editor at Vogue magazine.

Maxime's first marriage, in the 1940s, was to a French count, Alain de la Falaise. she and the Count had two children: a daughter, Louise, a well-known fashion model and muse to Mr. Saint Laurent, known proffesionally as Loulou; and a son, Alexis, a furniture designer, who died several years ago. when this marriage ended in divorce, Maxime married MOMA currator John McKendry, who died in 1975.

in May of this year, at the age of 86, Maxime de la Falaise died of natural causes. besides her daughter, Ms. de la Falaise is survived by several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. one of her grandchildren, Lucie de la Falaise, was a prominent fashion model in the 1990s.

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