*Interviewed in 2011, owner of the biggest Haute Couture collection in the world at the time.
In 1966, Danielle approached Yves Saint Laurent. Moved by the modernity of this young woman who seemed the incarnation of everything he wished to express in his designs, he decided to hire her on the spot. The career of the woman who came to be known as “Danielle the red-haired model” had just begun.
“Without fully realizing it” at the time,” I must have been able to sense what he was fashioning on me, and to support and reassure him, by my bearing, in his act of creation” , recalls the woman who inspired, in the young Yves Saint Laurent ,outfits with a whiff of scandal about them.
A discreet personality in the world of couture, Danielle developed a passion which led to her putting together an important ensemble of labelled garments, with examples selected from haute couture and designer ready-to-wear. Her wardrobe soon became a clearly defined collection. Each item was chosen for what it could be made to say when worn by the collector; what her body, in movement, thus clothed could express. Therein lay the sublime skill of the model.
Today, Danielle has chosen to share with others what she has been permitted to receive, and to sell her collection which consists of more than 5000 clothes, 1400 jewels, 600 hats and 2300 accessories (belts, gloves, stoles…).
Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain comments on her Haute Couture collection:
VCXY: I have looked through the beautiful pictures in the book ‘Mode, Passion Et Collection (Le Regard D’une Femme)’ could you please tell us about the three main reasons why did you choose to collect couture clothing in the first place?
Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain: For me, to collect is to memorize so as to pass on. During my long working sessions with Yves Saint Laurent, I took cognizance of the extreme difficulty to manufacture a cloth of haute couture. This, since the beginning, gave me the wish to own the clothes done on me.
VCXY: 2. What are your favorite couture pieces in terms of each of these aspects:
• 1. Fitting,
• 2. Silhouette,
• 3. Craftsmanship,
• 4. Brand,
• 5. Fabric choice,
• 6. Design concept…
• Which of these elements would you grant priority when choosing a piece? Please rank the first 3 elements that you definitely considered as criteria for the couture clothing you came across, and which become a part of your collection.
Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain: What interests me most is the architecture of the cloth. What I expect from a cloth of haute couture is that it makes me prettier while respecting my personality. I like when the cloth is impressive but elegant. I give great value to the notion of show.
VCXY: 3. Fashion has certainly been a big part of your life. How does it impact your views on individuality and grace?
Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain: I always pay a thorough attention to the elegance and look of a woman, also this doesn’t have any influence on my opinion on her.
VCXY: 4. How would you describe couture fashion’s relevance to interpersonal relations (especially considering the notion of expressing the individual’s ‘essence’/ ‘power’)?
Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain: For me the power is not in the cloth but in the woman’s overall look.
VCXY: 5. How do you think the attitude towards modeling/ models has changed in the more recent years compared to before?
Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain: In Paris, in the sixties, to be a model for a designer of haute couture meant to fully belong to the house, as you had an exclusivity contract, and could by no means take part in a fashion show or photographs for another designer. We were then not very well paid but we were enjoying some advantages, such as clothes, make-up, hairdressing…
Today, models are independent women, very well paid, doing fashion shows as well as photographs, but have very few contacts with the designer.
VCXY: 6. How would you describe the experience you accrued in being the face of Yves Saint Laurent? How did you come to be the model of YSL in the first place?
Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain: I was living this experience, but without realizing the impact I could have. At the time, young women from good families had to know how to sew and were reading fashion magazines. In these magazines, I admired some drawings made by Yves Saint Laurent. I decided then to introduce myself as a model to his house, which had just been founded. He was attracted by my personality and my style, and hired me.
VCXY: 7. Of the artists you personally know, who can you relate to the most and why? What is your relationship with ‘Art’?
Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain: In the world of Fashion, the artist I am closest to is Claude Montana, of whom I can say I own the main part of his collections.
Beside this, I have always been attracted by modern and contemporary art, and I have met artists such as Christo and Jeanne Claude, Jean-Pierre Raynaud, Christian Boltansky, Andy Warhol, and many others.
VCXY: 8. Could you tell us about some life-changing childhood experiences and also some character-building experiences you had in your teenage years?
Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain: I have 7 brothers and sisters, and I am the 5th oldest one. We have been raised with happiness and humor, and have always remained very close to each other.
VCXY: 9. Have you visited Asia? Our readers would like to know what your general impression of the Eastern sphere of the world is.
Danielle Luquet de Saint Germain: Unfortunately not yet, and it is a pity, as, for me, Asia represents the world of the future. I would like to pass on to the Chinese woman my knowledge of fashion I acquired during all these years…