PARIS - A few days ago on 2 March, Simon Micheline Bodin passed away aged 90. She was better known as Bettina, the famous French model – dubbed by Vanity Fair as “the first supermodel in an era when the moniker meant she was no mere clothes hanger. She was a muse, a press agent, and even arranged the shows personally.”

This icon of Parisian fashion began her career in the late 1940s as the principal model and muse of Jacques Fath. With her distinctive red hair, she quickly became one of the most famous models and was portrayed by all of the important photographers of the 20th century, including Henry Clarke, Horst P. Horst, Erwin Blumenfeld, Norman Parkinson, Irving Penn, Georges Dambier, Mark Shaw, Willy Maywald, Jean-Philippe Charbonnier and Gordon Parks.

A broderie anglaise dress created by Azzedine Alaia for Bettina.

A close friend to Hubert de Givenchy, Bettina worked with him to open his fashion house in the early 1950s and also worked for Chanel and Emmanuel Ungaro, for whom she managed Public Relations in the US. For more than 60 years she embodied the “Parisian”, she met and inspired artists, intellectuals and important figures. She was also a muse to designer Azzedine Alaia who paid tribute to her timeless elegance by exhibiting a selection of the most beautiful portraits he made of her in Paris last year.