Betty Catroux, was born Betty Saint in 1945 and is a former Chanel model, and fashion icon. She was born into a rich bourgeoisie upbringing. She became a muse for the legendary, Yves Saint Laurent who called her his twin sister and referred to her as his female incarnation. Famed for her long white blond hair, lanky body, gaunt features and androgynous appearance, Catroux and Saint Laurent met, according to her, in Regines, a very Gay nightclub in Paris in the 60’s. Until Saint Laurent ‘s death, Catroux said, she had a fairytale life with him.
Betty began modelling at the tender age of 17 working for the likes of Coco Chanel. Having met Saint Laurent, the attraction between the two friends was not only aesthetic, but intellectual. They shared an escapist mentality. She says, “We had a passion for Rolling Stones; we adored all that was louche. We loved the night, the excesses ” said Catroux, who is rumoured to also have gone into rehab with Saint Laurent, in the late seventies. They shared a French bourgeois mindset, which made their exploratory walks on the wild side especially exciting if not less than truly dangerous. Catroux told Oyster magazine in 2011, ‘we liked the hippie mentality, but since we loved luxury their lifestyle was not for us, it just meant more freedom and rebellion” . Saint Laurent in 1968 showed a couture collection that was built around the man tailored pantsuit, inspired by her. Catroux said, It is fair to say I have inspired many of the clothes that mark Saint Laurent’s genius for liberating women through fashion.
Betty was known for her minimal and almost hedonistic masculine fashion sense. The iconic Le Smoking suit was inspired by Betty.
On her wedding day to interior designer; Francois Catroux she wore a Pierre Cardin fur and boots influenced by the youth quake fashion of the 60s. I do what I want, when I want, I am completely free, although I am married, I love to be different, i love to dance and drink.
Friends with Loulou de la falaise and Catherine Deneuve, supposedly Loulou brought out the colourful and the femininity in Yves Saint Laurent and it was Betty who brought out his dark side, just like an Angel and a Devil. Their devotion to each other was admirable in the fashion world. It was the three of them. Tom Ford was reportedly so inspired by her that he dedicated his debut YSL Rive Gauche collection to her.
Yves partner, Loulou and Betty who were at the side of Mr Saint Laurent during his last hours.
So ladies and gentlemen, I give you Miss Le Smoking herself- Betty Catroux.