PARIS — Nicole Crassat, the former fashion editor at French Elle, died Saturday in Paris. She was 78.

Sources cited a heart attack as the cause of death.

This story first appeared in the January 10, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I had a particularly great admiration for her. She was an extremely feminine but very modern woman,” said Jean Paul Gaultier, adding that she influenced him enormously with her work.

“She was a real and great talent and I knew her at the beginning of my career, with one of my first editorials done by her for Elle in 1979, under the title ‘Hello the Eighties,’” Gaultier recalled.

Among the memorable looks Crassat assembled for a shoot was a model dressed in a boiler suit with high heels and glitter. “She had this real ability to mix,” Gaultier said.

“For her, fashion only existed if it made women happy,” said Jean-Jacques Picart, a Paris-based industry consultant, describing Crassat’s Elle covers and shoots as consistently joyful and light. “She hated when fashion was too serious, or too sexy.”

“She was a fantastic fashion editor. All of the French brands owe her so much,” Picart continued, noting that she uncovered many key talents, including Azzedine Alaïa.

According to Picart, Crassat spent most of her career at French Elle, where she was a mentor to such stylists at Carine Roitfeld. She finished up her stint in fashion as an editor at large at Figaro Madame.

“Nobody ever realized how big she was in the fashion world,” said Gilles Bensimon. “She never had the attention of some of the other editors but she was bigger than them in other ways. She was incredibly good looking and charming and had a passion for what she did. But she never tried to take the credit. I hope the CFDA will give her some kind of award. It’s not something she would have ever cared about, but I think it would be really nice.”

Crassat is survived by a son, Picart said.

Services are scheduled for Friday, Jan. 13, at 2:45 p.m. at the Crematorium at Père Lachaise, 71 Rue des Rondeaux in Paris.

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