The Yves Saint Laurent muse still going strong

Suit — Sacai. Jacket — Alexandre Blanc Paris.

A disciple of Yves Saint Laurent himself, Amalia Vairelli emerged on the fashion scene in the late 70s and has cut a swathe through the industry ever since. While never a household name, Amalia became a force on the European catwalk circuit and appeared in ads for YSL and Gianni Versace and on the pages of Vogue. In the four decades since her discovery at a Paris disco, Amalia’s reputation as a runway legend hasn’t diminished. Far from jaded, she continues to model—mostly recently alongside her son for Marine Serre—and she remains philosophical about her experiences, with a deep love for fashion still intact. Here, in her own words, Amalia shares her story.


Photographer – Lucie Hugary @ Le Crime for
Stylist – Glen Mban
Makeup – Loriane Leger
Model Amalia Vairelli @ Silver (Paris)


Left: Top — Mugler. Trench coat — Schepperhyn. Leather trousers — Christophe Terzian | Center: Top — Marta Martino | Right: Dress — Carmen March.

I was born in Somalia and arrived in France when I was 9. I was raised by my father’s sister and her husband, a very wise and open-minded man who taught me tolerance and acceptance of differences. But I could not understand why I was in France until I was 16 and learned that by sending me away, my father had saved me from the excision that most of the little girls suffer in Somalia. So my life as a teenager and a woman was—and is—heaven!

On a dance floor, in a night club, a man who had a modeling agency gave me his card. We did a photoshoot to see if I was photogenic and [he] took me into his agency. A few days later I had my first casting at Yves Saint Laurent with whom I signed. I was 21.

Total look — Mugler.

More than a career, modelling is a life journey, during which you must know how to fly in first-class and take the subway. Sleep at the Ritz and in a tent. Eat caviar or a simple pasta dish. It’s knowing how to assert yourself without infringing on the freedom of others.

Traveling around the world, in places where wealth and poverty co-exist, gives you the privilege to approach life’s hazards objectively. I am instinctive and intuitive, two antennas that help me to progress in the meanders of life.

Left: Pullover — Mugler | Right: Suit — Alexandre Vauthier. Bag — Egon.

I like to draw accessories and create jewelry. I have a personal relationship with aesthetics. It tells me a lot about my own nature. A beautiful object is a selfless satisfaction, an interpretation of nature that awakens intellectual faculties!

My journey with Yves Saint Laurent was by far the most culturally, artistically, and humanely rewarding. It was like a passport that allowed me—and still does today—to cross all borders and work with the most talented people.

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