PARIS — Tributes began trickling in Wednesday for cult French model Bettina Graziani, who died in Paris on Monday at the age of 89, according to sources close to her.
In a statement, Givenchy called her “the very first muse of the house and an icon of elegance and of Parisian refinement. As a nod, the creator gave her name to the famous white-ruffled blouse, ‘blouse Bettina.’ It was the very first look of the very first collection.”
Valentino’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli called Graziani “a fashion icon. Her pictures are still a source of great inspiration and timeless elegance. Her style will forever be remembered.”
She was born Simone Micheline Bodin, but renamed by Jacques Fath. Graziani started to work as a press agent and model for Hubert de Givenchy in 1952.
The redhead with freckles was dubbed “the most photographed woman in France” by Paris Match magazine in the early Fifties, the decade where she reached the pinnacle of her career.
Graziani commanded unheard-of fees: 7,000 francs an hour, or about $1,330. Then she left modeling for good, save for a 1967 assignment for Coco Chanel and subsequent projects for Emanuel Ungaro and Valentino.
Early last year Graziani — always with her signature flame-colored locks — was spotted front-row at Christian Dior’s couture show. Even late in her life she exuded a youthful aura, making Azzedine Alaïa a designer of choice.
The pair held a mutual respect. From Nov. 13, 2014 to Jan. 11, Alaïa hosted a show of photographs in Paris featuring Graziani with images by the likes of Irving Penn, Gordon Parks and Henri Cartier-Bresson. Between 400 and 500 attended the vernissage for the exhibition that boasted 12,000 attendees in all.
The exhibit was at 10 Corso Como in Milan beforehand.
Graziani’s career was recognized by the French government in mid-2010, when it awarded her the Legion of Honor.
Funeral arrangements for Graziani could not immediately be learned.