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August 20 2014

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Violeta Sanchez’s Adventures in Le Smoking

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Violeta and Luz SanchezFrench actress Violeta Sanchez, muse to Yves Saint Laurent and Helmut Newton, is bringing her story full circle. On Saturday, she will don a tux to present the Atelier Pallas Fall ’14 collection of made-to-order smokings and smoking-inspired jackets and dresses. And it will be a family affair, as Sanchez’s 15 year-old daughter, Luz, will model the pieces. It’s a nice display symmetry, as Sanchez’s own adventures in fashion started with a tuxedo.

“When I first started out, I spent all my time at the cinema. My ideal was Marlene Dietrich in menswear, so when I got my first paycheck, I ordered a smoking from a tailor in the eighth arrondissement. He came recommended by Paloma Picasso, who was doing our set and costumes,” she recalled the other day in the Pallas atelier in Paris’ ninth district. “He had never worked with a woman before, let alone one who was not yet 20, so he really threw his heart into it.”

Sanchez proudly wore that tux to her first premiere, the aptly-named play Succès. At the dinner that followed, she found herself seated with Saint Laurent and Newton. “I knew little about fashion, or Vogue, or Newton, or anything,” she admitted. But by evening’s end, Sanchez had two new friends and had made a promise for a shoot. Within days, she appeared on the Saint Laurent couture runway. “I didn’t fit the type of the time, so that story really started with a chance meeting that transformed and became something else.” It’s not so much a fashion story, she noted, than one about how what you wear can change your life.

Despite her many years with Saint Laurent, the smoking designed for her by Atelier Pallas owners Daniel Pallas and Véronique Bousquet is only the second Sanchez has ever owned (she still wears the original). “When I saw the atelier, I realized how much I missed that world. When I tried it on, I was hooked,” she laughed. “It was all really simple. I wanted to bring my story to theirs, out of conviction.”

Photo: Courtesy Photo

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