Disappeared exactly thirty years ago, Jacques Chazot is the symbol of a vanished era, of which we will undoubtedly find no reference in history books: a time when Paris was the kingdom of worldly parties, and of the spirit, of which Chazot was one of the princes. The tuxedo was then his work overall and he took great care to cultivate another form of elegance, that of the French language.
Star dancer at the Paris Opera in the early 1950s, he made his first discreet steps on television by organizing choreographies in variety shows. He then created, in the women's press, the character of Marie-Chantal, who became the archetype of snobbery. The success of his articles allowed him to be received and quickly adored in what was then called the great world. He does not make himself small, since, very quickly, he has his napkin ring with Baroness Marie-Hélène de Rothschild, Louise de Vilmorin and above all, Coco Chanel. Until the day before his death, she welcomed him into her home, often face to face, and sometimes several times a week. This is how quasi-filial links were born, of which the images provided by Madelen give you an overview. They were filmed in January 1970, at the time of the presentation of one of the designer's final collections, exactly one year before her death. “When the parades were over, there was no longer anyone around her, and we filled our solitudes” Chazot would later confide, in one of the rare moments when, on the small screen, he plays the card of a sincerity and an emotion that the socialite persona he created for himself carefully took care to conceal.
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For nearly four decades, he lunched or dined with those he called his girlfriends, from La Callas to Annabel Buffet via Marie Bell and even Cléo de Merode, during the last five years of his life. He also delighted with his witticisms André Malraux, King Hassan II of Morocco, or François Mauriac who, in the evening, when they went to Castel, introduced him as his son. There was also Françoise Sagan who nicknamed him “Minou” and whom he regularly accompanied to Deauville or New York. They were so close that one evening she asked him to marry her. He asked for time to think and when he did he replied “why not?” ", she replied, straight away, "but that's out of the question, tonight, I'm not depressed."
Jacques Chazot with Coco Chanel at the INA
Constantly overwhelmed by invitation cards, he hosted the Bal des Petits Lits Blancs, and opened that of the Debutantes on several occasions. On television, he made Brigitte Bardot and Annie Girardot waltz, convinced Barbara to accompany Juliette Gréco on the piano, and hosted shows by Maritie and Gilbert Carpentier, who even gave him a Number One. He also showed his gifts for improvisation on the occasion of memorable sequences of particularly spicy verbal ping-pong, with Philippe Bouvard in his Saturday evening broadcasts. With a culture in which he did not pride himself, he claimed to prefer Degas to Godard, whose films, he assured, he missed without the slightest regret.
The 80s were more difficult. A cicada side and problems with the tax authorities put his finances at their lowest. Jacques Chirac, then mayor of Paris, saved his day by entrusting him with weekly balls at the Hôtel de Ville for the elderly. Pierre Cardin and Thierry le Luron, who called him “the humor of his life” also helped him. Suffering from throat cancer, he spent the last months of his life in the Château de Monthyon, where Jean-Claude Brialy offered him room and board. He rests today in the nearby cemetery. The almost anonymous grave of the man whose soul flew away at the same time as a certain spirit, that of Paris.