Like many other industries, fashion is known for being highly competitive and ever changing, which can be challenging when building long lasting relationships. However, and from the very beginning, close friendships and intimate collaborations have been proof that working as a team with trustworthy partners is one of the keys to a successful project. These are some of the most influential duos in the industry.
Loulou de la Falaise and Yves Saint Laurent
The french designer first met Loulou de la Falaise in 1968, at a friend’s party in Paris. She was by then the junior fashion editor of Queen magazine, a publication that served a young hip readership during the sixties. They quickly became close friends, and in 1972 Saint Laurent invited Loulou to join his fashion house.
Besides being his muse and adviser – De la Falaise’s signature trouser suits and chunky jewelry inspired many of Saint Laurent’s collections, who would later tell his biographer Axel Madsen that it was important to have Loulou beside him while he worked on a collection -, the british jet setter soon started designing colorful pieces of jewelry, hats and other accessories for the french house.
The duo worked together until the retirement of Saint Laurent in 2002, six years before his death. A few years later, De la Falaise designed a line of jewelry to be sold at the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech, the place where Saint Laurent’s ashes were scattered.
Marc Jacobs and Sofia Coppola
“She represented everything I am drawn to – talent, style, creativity, a unique vision and voice.”
The two met for the first time just after the presentation of Jacobs’ iconic grunge collection, which would cost him his job as creative director at Perry Ellis. Nobody seemed to understand the revolutionary impact of the show, except for Coppola. “Sofia was one of the few who recognized something special and related to what I was doing at that time. She wanted to meet me, and when we did, it was love at first sight for me!”, Marc Jacobs told Dazed. “Not only was I attracted to how she looked, her sense of style, I was drawn to her manner, her behavior, her life, her ambitions and creativity… She represented everything I am drawn to – talent, style, creativity, a unique ‘vision and voice’.”
They became close friends immediately, sharing similar tastes for books, music and art. Coppola, who would eventually follow her father’s steps and become an acclaimed filmmaker, has been Jacobs’ muse ever since. They’ve worked together in countless campaigns and continue to inspire and influence each other.
Patti Smith and Ann Demeulemeester
Antwerpian fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester first learned about Patti Smith after finding her trademark album, Horses, on a record shop at sixteen years old. Some years later, and determined to meet Smith in person, Demeulemeester found the singer’s address and sent her a package full of clothes she’d made. They eventually met and have been very close friends for decades.
In 2014, Patti Smith told Vogue how important Demeulemeester’s clothes are to her. “I derive great power from wearing Ann’s clothes. Since I began performing again, after that first gift, I have never gone onstage without wearing a piece by Ann. All of Ann’s clothes are significant. A jacket, a vest, a shirt . . . they are such a part of me. They make me feel confident, they make me feel truly like myself. They are talismanic.”
Alexander McQueen and Shawn Leane
British jeweler Shaun Leane became friends with the late Alexander McQueen in 1992, just before the fashion designer’s graduation at Central Saint Martins. When, a year later, McQueen saw Leane’s work, he asked him to make jewelry for his shows. “He turned my whole world around, because he said: ‘Shaun, I’ve seen what you do, I’ve seen what you make.’ And he said if you just apply those skills to other mediums you can create anything. And that was it, he just changed everything for me. He took me out of my comfort zone”, Leane told Dezeen.
The two worked together for 22 years, creating innovative pieces from materials like brass and aluminium. The coil corset, the egg nest feather headpiece and the spinal corset are some of the most memorable creations of the duo. “He changed the silhouette of fashion and I changed the silhouette of jewelry, and we worked brilliantly together because we were both really good friends. We were hungry and driven, and we didn’t analyze it too much, we just wanted to create the new.”
Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld
Karl built a tennis court on his property at Biarritz as an enticement for me to visit. (…) He was trying to give me somewhere I could feel at home, a place where I could be myself.”
The editor-in-chief of american Vogue and the creative director of french house Chanel have been close friends for decades, attending parties together and keeping standing dates for dinner on the first saturday of every fashion week in Paris.
At the 2014 British Fashion Awards, Wintour talked about the german designer in a heartfelt speech which mentioned a gift he had given her once. “Karl built a tennis court on his property at Biarritz as an enticement for me to visit. Needless to say this was the first and surely the last time anyone has constructed sporting turf in my honor, but Karl was trying to give me somewhere I could feel at home, a place where I could be myself. That’s what his clothing does for millions of women each day, so I suppose that generosity should not have surprised me.”
Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell
The two supermodels met in 1992, when Kate was 15 years old and Naomi was 18. Campbell was already close friends with Christy Turlington at the time, so they took Moss under their wing. “Christy and I showed Kate the ropes. If we knew a designer was a certain way we’d explain it to her, we’d tell her how people worked and what to look out for. (…) Kate lived between Christy’s flat and my flat in New York and then when we travelled to do the shows in Italy and Paris, we’d try to stay in the same hotels and on the same floor.”, Naomi told PerezHilton.
After almost 30 years, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell are still close friends. “We’re like we’re at secondary school. That’s what happens with girlfriends who’ve grown up together. That’s the charm of the friendship.”