November 4, 2014

Bettina, a star among models. Exhibition at Galerie Azzedine Alaïa, Paris

The history of fashion is rich with extraordinary characters and life stories. It is only natural, since they are, in fact, the ones to have written it. But personalities such as Simone Micheline Bodin, better said, Bettina, muse to Coco Chanel, Emanuel Ungaro and Valentino – to only name e few – are truly rare!

Bettina, Georges Dambier Galerie Azzedine Alaïa exhibition

It’s fully demonstrated by the very exhibition that is to open November 12, at Galerie Azzedine Alaïa in Paris. As her portfolio of designer-collaborators – Jacques Costet, Jacques Fath or Hubert de Givenchy – is doubled by an even more formidable one of photographers. Henri Cartier-Bresson, Irving Penn, Dick Dormer, Norman Parkinson, Erwin Blumenfeld, Henry Clarke, Gordon Parks and Jean-Philippe Charbonnier account for some of the artists fascinated by Bettina to have photographs included in the exhibition.

And the context they canvas – events from the life of a star-model and of the golden age of couture – is even more filled with significance.

After a childhood marked by being abandoned by the father and losing a grandmother to World War 2, Bettina still had her native determination and optimism to succeed. Arrived in Paris from rural Normandy to study ballet, she would soon be reaching the peaks of a profession thus far non-existent. She would become the first star-model (the time’s equivalent to supermodels) in the world and, as the ’’most photographed woman in France’’, maybe also be the first street style fashionista in history. She would meet a not yet famous Christian Dior. Effortlessly create a unique image of elegance and naturalness. Be courted by designers and couturiers to introduce their models among the iconic pieces of the time. Pose for Vogue. Meet Gaston Gallimard, William Faulkner and Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Charlie Chaplin, Truman Capote and Gary Cooper. Travel to Italy, the United States, Brazil and Argentina.

And at almost 90 years old, for decades retired from activity, have it still be relevant that Bettina is wearing Balenciaga, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Azzedine Alaïa.

For more image-reading of a legendary fashion career, don’t miss the Parisian Bettina exhibition: Galerie Azzedine Alaïa, 18 Rue de la Verrerie, from November 13 to January 11, 2015, 11 AM to 19 PM, free admission!


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Photos: Galerie Azzedine Alaïa