Janie Samet, France’s most renowned fashion critic and a fixture at Paris daily Le Figaro for 25 years, has passed away at the age of 91.

While she retired to the serene south of France two decades ago, Samet remained a revered figure and the most influential French fashion critic of the past half-century.

Samet’s journey into the world of fashion began early in her life. At just 18, while interning for L’Écho d’Oran, she had the opportunity to interview the budding designer Yves Saint Laurent when he won the International Wool Secretariat Prize. This interview marked her first encounter with the future fashion legend.

In the late 1950s, Samet gained recognition at another Paris daily, L’Aurore, where she chronicled Swinging London in a column titled «Bons Baisers (Sweet Kisses) de Londres de Janie Samet.» In 1979, she joined Le Figaro, coinciding with a transformative period in the fashion industry characterized by the influx of high finance, modern management, and a new generation of designers. Her career spanned this exciting era and beyond.

Throughout her illustrious career, Samet became known for her discerning eye and ability to dissect collections and designers with her trademark dry wit. She possessed encyclopedic knowledge of fashion and prided herself on her independence, always sitting front row with her Hermès notebook, where she took notes in pencil.

Despite her petite stature and occasionally prim appearance, Samet was beloved by some of the most avant-garde designers. Gianni Versace, for instance, considered her reviews the most important to read each season.

In 2007, Janie Samet was honored as an Officier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres in recognition of her brilliant career, with Pierre Cardin presenting her with the prestigious distinction. In 2006, she published «Chère Haute Couture,» a charming book featuring pen portraits of fashion luminaries such as Versace, Saint Laurent, and Lagerfeld.

Known for her knack for quickly gauging the potential of a collection, Samet was not one to mince words. She had a remarkable ability to determine whether a collection would succeed within seconds of viewing it. Her discernment was legendary, and her critiques, though sometimes subtle, carried immense weight in the fashion world.

The passing of Janie Samet marks the end of an era in French fashion journalism, but her legacy will continue to inspire generations of fashion enthusiasts and critics.

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