Yves Saint Laurent and Betty Catroux in the sitting room of the designer's Parisian home, May 1972
Former Chanel model and fashion icon, Betty Catroux, was a muse to Yves Saint Laurent since 1967: “It was love at first sight—physically, I was androgynous, asexual, and it definitely affected him. Our resemblance was not only physical: we were alike morally, mentally. And what was so amazing about him is that he felt that I could be his soulmate—a kindred spirit” she once told Vogue Italia.
With her signature look of blonde hair falling over dark glasses, Catroux didn’t like to be called a muse, but rather Yves Saint Laurent’s “soulmate”.
Betty Catroux and François Catroux in 1970
Above: Yves Saint Laurent and Betty Catroux sitting in the Oriental room of Yves Saint Laurent's Parisian home, May 1972 / via Vogue
Betty Catroux was born in Brazil in 1945, the only child of Carmen Saint, a Brazil-born French socialite, and Elim O’Shaughnessy (1907–1966), an American diplomat. The first four years of her life were spent in Brazil before her mother ended a short marriage with a Brazilian man and took her to Paris. She started modelling in the 60s at the age of 17, meeting Yves Saint Laurent in 1967 at a gay nightclub. Her look was boyish yet feminine, with an ability to style everything so simply yet chicly, whether a jacket, a white t-shirt and black pants; a lace-front safari suit, knotted trench coat, or boyish black jeans and biker jackets.
When asked about her fashion sense, Catroux said that she has “dressed the same way practically since I was born. I don’t dress as a woman. I’m not interested in fashion at all.” (SFLuxe. 29 October 2008)
In 1968, Betty Saint married French interior decorator François Catroux, a grandson of General Georges Catroux. The couple have two daughters: Maxime and Daphné.
Catroux stated many times that they lived for beauty and amusement: “And the first rule was to seduce. Seduce everybody and make everybody crazy about us and then never mix with anyone.” (The New York Times)
Yves Saint Laurent and Betty Catroux in Marrakech in the 70s / via Vogue
“Love at first sight. An extraordinary meeting of minds. Yves was a big brother figure, we shared identical streaks of laid-back self-destructiveness and from moral and psychological points of view, we were absolutely identical. We were tremendous together, and bipolar, as it’s now known, always up and down. And of course, we were both anti-bourgeois and decadent to our cores.” —Vogue
Betty Catroux in front of the first YSL store in London in New Bond Street in 1969 / via Vogue
Betty Catroux and Yves Saint Laurent
Betty Catroux, Yves Saint Laurent et Loulou de la Falaise in front of the Yves Saint Laurent’s store in London in 1969
Loulou de la Falaise, Betty Catroux and Yves Saint Laurent in his house on 55 Babylone Street
Betty Catroux in her Parisian appartement in 1970
Betty Catroux in Saint Laurent’s fall 2018 campaign
Yves Saint Laurent & Betty Catroux on holidays in the 80s