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RIP.....La Muse: Hélène Rochas

La Madame Rochas...
Hélène Rochas, with "Bat" Mask
Hélène Rochas, former director of the luxury house of Rochas, passed away at 84 earlier this month. An elegant woman, icon of Parisian chic and as Frédéric Mitterrand, France's minister of culture and communication, said in an official statement "....With her vanquished the last muse of the great couturiers and artistic circles from after the war, vanquished a past universe of splendor and sumptuous Parisian parties..."
Hélène Rochas
Here are some Hélène Rochas Facts:
Couturier Marcel Rochas
  • Hélène Rochas helped turn the House of Rochas into a perfume POWERHOUSE.
  • She became the third wife of couturier Marcel Rochas only a few months after she met him as an 18-year-old during the Nazi Occupation in Paris on the last Metro of the evening.
  • Her mother was France's first woman dentist.
Model Lisa Fonssagrives wearing Rochas in an Irvin Penn Photograph, American Vogue 1950
  • When he closed his own atelier in 1953, he took her to Chanel, Dior, and Balenciaga for her wardrobe.
  • As a result of her husband's early death in 1955, she rebelled and cut her hair short (Mon Dieu!)

  • Also, on his death in 1955 his wife Hélène, who was not yet 30, took charge of the business. Over the next fifteen years, she transformed the couture house into a multimillion dollar label, primarily through the addition of fragrances like Madame Rochas in 1960 and Eau de Rochas
  • When her husband died, she was asked to become president of the company. She turned it into France's sixth largest perfumer by 1964.
  • Hélène ran Rochas until 1971, when she sold it for a reported $40 million, and then returning from 1984 to 1989 as a fragrance consultant. Her influence over the brand continued through to its most recent incarnation with Olivier Theyskens’ appointment as creative director between 2002 and 2006, with him citing her as one of his inspirations.
Madame Rochas with Yves Saint Laurent, 1980's
  • She wore a lot of Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture. She is said to have bought three or four Saint Laurent Couture outfits (estimated at over a quarter of a million US dollars at today's rate) per season and 10-12 "boutique" or pret-a-porter/ready to wear ensembles.
Below are several more photos of the divine Mme Rochas:
Hélène Rochas, 1984: In Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture--Color Blocking ahead of its time!
Hélène Rochas, bouffant, an Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture gown...and a feathered fan
Andy Warhol Portrait of Hélène Rochas, 1974
A Rochas spokesperson said that Hélène’s death marked "the end of a myth, of an era… She was the muse of one of the great couturiers, the last to remain alive from that era."

1 Response to "RIP.....La Muse: Hélène Rochas"

Scrufff said...

A tidbit not related to Madam Rochas - which btw her eponymous perfume was my mom's fav the in the 70's. I so remember the black and white box it came in, anyhoo....

The photo of proto-super model Lisa Fonssagrives was shot by her illustrious superstar photographer husband Irving Penn. They were married until the day she died. He's been quoted to say that Fonssagrive was the loveliest model he ever worked with.