“The most photographed woman in France” was the title of Bettina Graziani, top French model of the 50s, who died last Monday. Star of Parisian catwalks, Bettina was the muse of designers such as Givenchy, Dior and Jacques Fath. Her beauty not only captivated the world of fashion: big international photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, Irving Penn, Robert Doisneau, Erwin Blumenfeld and Mario Testino succumbed to her charms.
Two prominent cheekbones, striking eyes and a thin waist were the weapons of this redhead barely five feet 66 inches, who left behind Normandy at 18 with dreams of a career in Paris. Was the stylist Jacques Costet who hired her first. It did not take long to draw attention after Jacques Fath hired her. From there it was all uphill: Dior made her parade for his New Look and writer Françoise Sagan gave her a memorable article in Vogue Paris entitled The redhead Eminence.
By 1955, Bettina was already the highest paid model of the era and retired at 35 years. But the catwalk had caused her addiction and Bettina decided to test her legacy and decided to return to the industry at 42. Chanel received her and gave her a collection, though this meant an immediate bounce back and then to the aesthetic demands of the time, her ancient and stylized figure had gained “some weight”.
With her great reputation in tow, the fashion world would not let her go so easily handled public relations for major firms such as Valentino and Ungaro during the 60s. Fashion icon and ambassador of France in the world, Bettina was honored in 2010 with the medal Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in a ceremony at which the Minister of French Culture Frédéric Mitterrand gave her to be “the emblem a certain French idea of fashion and the incarnation of the modern woman “.
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