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Willyr

Willy Rizzo’s had a life straight out of Match, the Paris glossy he began shooting for back in the 1940′s. He was married to a movie star (Elsa Martinelli), made a career out of photographing celebrities like Gary Cooper and Brigitte Bardot, inspired a Tintin character (Walter Rizotto, the Paris Flash pap who appears in The Castafiore Emerald), and designs collector’s-item modern furniture. So the opening of an exhibit of his photos and furniture co-hosted by Paul Smith at Mallett on Madison Avenue last night was old hat for him. As Joan Collins checked out the displays, he sat at a backgammon table of his own devising and greeted old friends. His favorite photo, he said, was the one of Coco Chanel, shot in 1954 in Paris. “She liked to talk. She was a motormouth.” How did he get the famously grumpy Mademoiselle to smile? “We were friends, so I took her out for lunch first, then we went for a walk in the Tuileries. And she turned around and smiled. She was easier with her friends, you know.”

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