L'Wren Scott and the Return of du Barry Red
Both the style and charm of Madame du Barry, who, like Marie Antoinette met the guillotine for her extravagance, have been significantly underappreciated historically. Wearing her own dreamy spring collection at a Haiti benefit, press-shy designer L'Wren Scott, model turned stylist and now Mick Jagger's girlfriend, sets the record straight.
Versailles, Sunday, 22 April, 1769, Presentation of Madame du Barry at Court
"Richelieu had ordered a dress fit for a queen with enormous panniers of silver and gold cloth bespattered with diamonds and a train of inordinate length. . . . The extraordinary thing about Jeanne du Barry was that, for all her sordid past, she still managed to look as innocent as any virgin, with a skin so delicate it hardly required any rouge, teeth of dazzling whiteness in a small, naturally scarlet mouth, blue, yes, made all the softer by their long dark lashes." Joan Haslip, "The Wages of Beauty"
May 6, 2010 L'Wren Scott, in a nod to Louix XV's famously big-spending mistress, wears du Barry red to a Manhattan benefit for victims of the Haiti earthquake.
RxHaiti was a benefit that counted. On Monday, May 6, a well-populated rooftop cocktail soiree and auction in New York, hosted by Mick Jagger and designer L'Wren Scott, benefited earthquake survivors in need of replacement limbs.
On a sparkling, clear evening atop the 20-story Scholastic building in SoHo, a wrinkly Mick Jagger bounded into the room wearing fresh New Balance running shoes, skinny jeans, a gray blazer with schoolboy dark edging around the lapel, and the characteristic lips and undone coif. In the open air, next to gal pal L'Wren Scott, who towers a head taller, Jagger brandished a Sharpie to sign the glossy keyboard cover of a screaming red baby grand being auctioned to raise funds for prosthetic limbs. A vast glass atrium, also on the roof, housed further auction items, including guitars signed by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, and Bono. A handler correctly mentioned to actress Rachel Weisz that her buddy Naomi Watts would turn up at any moment. "I love charities that focus on something very specific," Weisz told Luxist.
The actress then helped to explain the head-turning celebrity involvement. "There are five thousand people that need prosthetic limbs in Haiti," said an unusually pale Weisz with appropriate urgency. "And the children are growing. They need to get new limbs every few months. . . ."
In the crisp, open air outside, Scott, on Jagger's arm, further explained the industrial-strength celeb attendance. "It's important to all of us that we keep Haiti on everyone's mind. There were so many people who lost their ability to walk."
While the need in Haiti is heartfelt and pressing, one couldn't help but notice Scott's sensational undersized pinkish-red velvet jacket. The designer is a skyscraping beauty with big outdoorsy cheekbones. She hails from Utah, made it as a model working in Paris, and then, yet again as a stylist working closely with the legendary photographer Herb Ritts. After hooking up with Jagger, and designing clothes for a Stones tour, she launched her own insidery, highly touted fashion line.
In the breeze, Scott's serpentine curls, pinned back by sunglasses, swept onto one shoulder. The soft scarlet jacket overlaid a form-clinging dress in a similar shade that exaggerated her sculptural form.
Luxist began our two-minute interview with the famously press-shy designer gingerly. Wearing your own designs? "It is," Scott answered.
And the two-tiered chandelier earrings?
"My own," Scott said, demurely suggesting that she owned the gems.
And the inspiration for this particular line?
"This is my spring/summer collection," she offered, momentarily warming. "It was called Madame du Barry. I was very inspired by her color palette and style, and I based my collection on that. You're inspired by a lot of things when you're a designer, and then it all comes into shape."
Scott was, of course, paying homage to the lavishly dressing mistress of Louis XV, who, at her own peril, helped to rev up the spending spree that undid the French monarchy. Whole rivers were diverted to feed over a thousand fountains in the gardens at Versailles. Broad canals could float a royal navy, with orchestra, for overnight garden parties.
"She was the one who famously fashioned this color, du Barry red," Scott continued before returning her attention to Haiti and then, understandably, Jagger. "They actually named it after her, and it was this color that I work on-- I used this color palette."
"But I want to talk about Haiti now," she insisted. "I think it's very brave of David [New York Doctor David Colbert] to organize this event. When he told me . . . I just wanted to jump onboard."