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PICTURE THIS: Paris Photo opened Wednesday night, and Azzedine Alaïa hosted a side event with a singular fashion focus: the cult French model Bettina Graziani.


This story first appeared in the November 14, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

His Marais gallery is playing host to an exhibition of photos of the petite, chameleon-like beauty by the likes of Irving Penn, Henry Clarke, Gordon Parks, Willy Rizzo, Horst P. Horst, Erwin Blumenfeld and even Henri Cartier-Bresson, normally disinterested in fashion photography.


Inspecting an arresting series by Robert Doisneau, Didier Grumbach recalled how Graziani, born Simone Micheline Bodin but renamed by Jacques Fath, started work as a press agent and model for Hubert de Givenchy in 1952. “She knew everyone,” he said as crowds gathered around the slight woman, now in her late 80s and, on Wednesday night, wearing a knit Alaïa gown in a burgundy shade that set of her signature flame-colored locks.


At the height of her career in the mid-Fifties, Graziani commanded unheard-of fees: 7,000 francs per 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.


Christian Lacroix, Claude Brouet and Italian retailer Carla Sozzani were among those who thronged the showcase. Sozzani said she just got back from Beijing, where she opened her latest outpost of Corso Como, just in time for the holidays.


The “Bettina” exhibition runs through Jan. 11.

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