Nicole de Lamargé (1938 – 1969) was more than just a model; she was a symbol of a transformative era in fashion. Though her name might not ring a bell in American fashion circles, her success in France, particularly as the face of Elle magazine, is a tale worth telling.
Discovered by Catherine Harlé in late-1950s Paris, Nicole de Lamargé quickly became the first significant star of Harlé’s agency. Starting with assignments for Jardin des Modes and Vogue, she soon found a special place with Elle, where she graced the cover 25 times. Her boyfriend, Peter Knapp, who served as Elle‘s art director, collaborated closely with her, capturing the fresh and self-assured spirit of the 1960s.
A Distinctive Style
“I use my face as a canvas,” de Lamargé once said. Her unique approach to her appearance was never stagnant. She changed her look frequently, explaining,
I keep changing my look, you see. I get very bored… I don’t think about my face anymore. It’s just instinct.
Her adaptability and creativity were key elements of her appeal. Karl Lagerfeld described her as the ‘Elle girl par excellence,’ and young models like Grace Coddington looked up to her as an idol.
De Lamargé’s success extended beyond France, as she collaborated with renowned London photographers such as Parkinson, Bailey, Duffy, and French. Her charm and charisma translated effortlessly into photographs, making her a sought-after figure in the industry.
A Tragic Ending
In 1969, de Lamargé’s life was cut tragically short. She was featured alongside Andy Warhol and the Beatles in Bailey’s tribute to the Swinging Sixties, ‘Goodbye Baby and Amen.’ The image captured her with bouffant curls, a playful tongue sticking out, and a cigarette in hand. In the index next to her name, Bailey hauntingly placed the single word ‘deceased.’
While on holiday in Morocco with her second husband, de Lamargé died in a car crash just a few months before the publication of Bailey’s work.
Her unique style, ever-changing appearance, and ability to embody the energy of a decade make her story an inspiring chapter in the annals of fashion. Her legacy continues to resonate, reflecting the breezy and confident spirit of a bygone era.