In the pantheon of fashion icons, there are a few whose influences have weaved through the ages, undiminished by the faded luster of bygone eras . Among these timeless muses is Betty Catroux - an emblem of daring femininity and a byword for rebellious chic who irreversibly changed the fashion landscape. Her alliance with Yves Saint Laurent is the subject of sartorial legend; a symbiosis so deep that it permeated the essence of the entire fashion trend.

betty catroux lasardo gioielli

Betty Catroux in 1993

This article is a tribute to a woman, whose style and skill continue to resonate today, a muse who led us to look at fashion not only from a clothing point of view, but as a living expression of the self. For readers of this blog, Betty Catroux's elegance and boldness serve as inspiration for pieces that aim to captivate and encourage in equal measure.

Who is Betty Catroux?

When Yves Saint Laurent first noticed Betty Catroux in a Parisian club, he saw more than an attractive personality; he saw his feminine ideal, an embodiment of the Saint Laurent woman, full of allure and enigma. Catroux was neither a conventional beauty nor a traditionalist in style, yet her slim figure, platinum blonde hair and defiant gaze captured the spirit of the times and, indeed, of Saint Laurent himself.

Betty Catroux and Yves Saint Laurent Betty Catroux together with designer Yves Saint Laurent

Betty Catroux was not only a muse; she was the ultimate representation of Saint Laurent's androgynous aesthetic, exerting a masculine edge while retaining her feminine charm. A chic renegade of her time, she has become synonymous with the Saint Laurent brand - a living, breathing embodiment of its founder's most avant-garde instincts.

Her presence in the fashion world not only inspired some of Saint Laurent's most famous creations, but also gave an air of authenticity to the idea that clothes are an extension of the self, symbols of personal freedom and identity.

Style and Influence

Betty Catroux's signature look was both her weapon and her shield. Her style was marked by a fusion of masculine and feminine elements, embracing an almost bewildering simplicity and an unwavering acceptance of non-conformity. Slim trousers, well-tailored jackets and minimalist monochromes were staples - each worn with a nonchalant grace that made her a leader of androgynous glamour.

These dichotomous accents have left an indelible mark on the world of fashion. By blurring gender lines, she challenged established norms and led to a more inclusive and fluid representation of style. Women from all walks of life began to adopt elements of her outfit, embracing the stronger figure that Catroux so easily represented.

Her influence on fashion trends is thus vast and perennial, illustrating how individual style can be both a reflection of social currents and a catalyst for change. As a fashion icon, Betty Catroux is a testament to the inherent power of dressing to embrace your true self.

Personal life

Beyond the glamor of her public persona, Betty Catroux's childhood and private life are just as fascinating as her public adventures. Born Betty Saint in 1945 to French and Brazilian parents, her life was a rich embroidery that unfolded through diverse cultures and experiences. Although the details of her youth remain private, her subsequent appearance in the flamboyant scenes of Parisian nightlife suggests a youth steeped in vibrancy and defiance.

Betty Catroux began her modeling career in the early 1960s at the age of 17. Her first employer was Coco Chanel, who had been a big fashion name in Paris for several decades already. The collaboration lasted only two years, and before leaving, he stated: "I hated everything, so I decided to take some pictures just to earn money to pay for my own Chez Regine glasses."

In 1968, Betty Saint married the French interior decorator François Catroux, a nephew of General Georges Catroux. The couple had two daughters: Maxime, a book publisher at Flammarion, and Daphné, who is married to Count Charles-Antoine Morand. Her relationships with Daphne and Maxime were light and unconventional, according to Daphne. She told a reporter that she was never like a mother, but more like a friend.

Betty and Francoise Catroux

Betty with her husband Francois Catroux


Betty's charm was not limited to her physicality - it was the electricity of her character, a combination of fierce independence and serene assurance, that drew people into her orbit. A woman of her own making, Betty navigated the worlds of fashion and high society with dignity, her personal life as elegant as her public facade.

Career and Collaborations

Betty Catroux's work is often overshadowed by her status as a muse, but her career is also marked by significant collaborations beyond her legendary friendship with Yves Saint Laurent. Her modeling career followed her as she became the brand of an aspirational lifestyle, one that combined bohemian and haute couture with impeccable ease.

Ms. Catroux and Loulou de la Falaise with Yves Saint Laurent at the opening of his first London Rive Gauche boutique, September 1969. Credit Beverley Goodway/Mirrorpix, via Getty Images

Although she never worked for Yves Saint, she inspired both him personally and his creations. She just wanted to have fun. The two were inseparable, spending most of their free time together. They remained friends until his death in 2008 and, recalling their friendship, Catroux said: "I had a fairytale life with him".

Catroux was a big name in the fashion world despite his antipathy for the industry. Yves Saint Laurent called her his twin sister and referred to her as his female incarnation. Tom Ford was so inspired by Catroux's presence that he dedicated his debut YSL Rive Gauche collection to her. Asked about her sense in on the subject of fashion, Catroux said that "I've basically dressed the same way since I was born. I don't dress like a woman. I'm not at all interested in fashion."

Together with the fashion designer, Tom Ford at the Caviar Kaspia restaurant, Paris

Her partnership with Saint Laurent, however, stands as the pinnacle of her career. Ever since that fateful meeting in a nightclub, their lives have become intricately intertwined both personally and professionally. Catroux has been described as Saint Laurent's "female double," an emblem of his aesthetic that influenced his designs as much as she was inspired by them. Their friendship was legendary, a relationship of kindred spirits who understood each other beyond the surface and whose impacts on each other's work were as enduring as their bond.

Heritage and Cultural Impact

"I never cared about fashion, nor did I understand this fascination for myself," said Ms. Catroux, the woman whose indelible images in Saint Laurent lace safari suits, knotted trench coats, boyish black jeans and cozy biker jackets or in sexually ambiguous evening wear called Le Smoking, inspired successive generations of designers to emulate her style and photographers such as Jeanloup Sieff, Helmut Newton and Irving Penn to try to capture her intriguing beauty on film .

As we reflect on Betty Catroux's influence, we are faced with a cultural impact that is difficult to encapsulate. With "effortless" outfits that acted as silent but resounding testimonies of a vibrant character, she charted an itinerary for future generations of women to explore their identity through fashion.

It is no exaggeration to say that modern fashion owes much to the archetype created by Betty Catroux and propelled by Yves Saint Laurent. Together, they paved the way for freedom of expression, paving the way for fashion as a dynamic art form that shapes and repeats social change. Betty Catroux's museum-worthy personal wardrobe of Yves Saint Laurent pieces donated to the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent stands as a physical testament to this enduring legacy, a sartorial chronicle of bold femininity.

Along with Anthony Vaccarello - current designer at Yves Saint Laurent


Betty Catroux remains, eternally, an icon of femininity in the rejection of the conventional, the mastery of self-presentation and her irrevocable connection with one of the biggest names in the world of fashion. Her partnership with Yves Saint Laurent not only shaped the silhouette of the 60s and 70s, but continues to resonate with the rhythm of modernity.

To reflect on Betty Catroux is to traverse the annals of fashion history, knowing that her mark will endure as a beacon of freedom of expression for those fearless to wear their identities with pride.

As we close this article, we reaffirm the importance of Betty Catroux not only as Yves Saint Laurent's muse (a word she loathed) or as a Fashion Icon - terms that define her but do not entirely contain her - but as a perpetual force in the avant-garde femininity, both then and now. To call upon her legacy is to equip yourself with the audacity to innovate, the conviction to inspire, and the poise to transcend pure and simple trends. Betty Catroux stands like a model; its essence will continue to reinvigorate the eloquence of style for generations to come.