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André Courrèges (pronounced: [andʁe kuʁɛʒ]; born 9 March 1923 in Pau) is a French fashion designer, known for his ultra-modern designs. At the age of 25, after studying to be a civil engineer, he went to Paris to work at the Jeanne Lafaurie fashion design house. A few months later, he went over to Balenciaga, the renowned Spanish designer.
Both Courrèges and Mary Quant lay claim to the invention of the miniskirt.
Career in fashion
In 1961, Courrèges opened his Maison de Couture with his little white dress and a trouser suit.
He launched his 'Space Age' collection in 1964. He built his dresses rather than designed them. The shapes of his clothes were geometric: squares, trapezoids, triangles. The look included boots, goggles, and hems three inches above the knees. The main features of his boxy, uncluttered look spread quickly throughout the fashion world, especially the miniskirt, which he introduced to France.
The materials included plastic and metal. He uses PVC clothing in his collections. Colours were primary: metallic, white, red, yellow, etc. From the perspective of publicity, the collection was an absolute sensation. However, it is worth remembering that fashion houses have always made their sales mostly from mature and older women. Skirts above knee length in bright colours and geometric shapes made from unyielding fabrics may look fine on a young model. They are less ideal for the clientele of most fashion houses.
In 1966, he launched a new perfume, and, in 1967, women began wearing his 'second-skin' all-over tights. This idea is still in vogue today.
Among Courrèges' later creations were sweater pants, parkas, tennis dresses, beach clothes and mechanic-style coveralls. In contrast, he also came out with a glow-in-the-dark jersey dress and an array of swimsuits, held together only by thin strings on the sides. He continued with his bright acid colors and geometrical designs. He was much copied by high-street retailers who toned down the ideas to better suit everyday wear. Shortly after he showed his space-age collection in 1964, the market was flooded with plastic skirts and jackets, angular seaming, crash helmets, white boots, and goggles.
As of 2012, 50% of total income is from license royalties.
Courrèges was influenced by modern architecture, technology, new fabrics, and modernism and futurism in art and design. Several others trod a similar path: Coco Chanel, who worked with and knew many modern artists, and Mary Quant, whose career paralled Courrèges in some ways. Courrèges was the one who pushed these ideas to the extreme, making some really memorable designs.
Notes and references
- Erik Orsenna (2008). Courrèges (in French). Xavier Barral. p. 228. ISBN 978-2-915173-27-7.
- Chevalier, Michel (2012). Luxury Brand Management. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-17176-9.