Geoffrey Beene

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Geoffrey Beene
Born Samuel Albert Bozeman, Jr
August 30, 1927
Haynesville, Louisiana
Died September 28, 2004 (age 77)
New York, New York
Occupation Fashion designer
Relative(s) Barbara Ann Wellman
Geoffrey Beene, LLC
Type Private
Industry Clothing, Eyewear, and Formal wear
Founded 1963
Headquarters New York City, New York, United States
Key people Geoffrey Beene and G. Thompson Hutton
Products Clothes, fragrance, formal wear, sunglasses, eyewear, jewelry, luggage
Website http://www.geoffreybeene.com

Geoffrey Beene (born Samuel Albert Bozeman, Jr., August 30, 1927 – September 28, 2004) was an American fashion designer. Beene was one of New York's most famous fashion designers, recognized for his artistic and technical skills and for creating simple, comfortable and dressy women's wear.

Early life and education[edit]

Beene was born on August 30, 1927 in the small rural town of Haynesville, Louisiana located just south of the Arkansas state line. He was born into a family of doctors and was encouraged to follow in their footsteps. He studied medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans but dropped out in 1946, after three years of study. Beene moved to Los Angeles, where he studied fashion design at the University of Southern California and worked in the display department of the I. Magnin retail store until 1947.[1] Later that year, he moved to New York City to attend the Traphagen School of Fashion. He, then, moved to Paris, where he attended the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne (ECSCP) and the couture house of Molyneux. In 1949, he returned to New York, where he became Assistant Designer at the Seventh Avenue house of Harmay. In 1958, he left Harmay to design with Teal Traina, before founding his eponymous design house.[2]

Career[edit]

Beene founded his firm, Geoffrey Beene, Inc., in New York City in 1963, in partnership with Teal Traina's Leo Orlandi in a Seventh Avenue showroom. A year later, he was awarded the Coty American Fashion Critics' Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the field of fashion. His first collection was featured on the cover of Vogue Magazine. 

In his 1970 collection, Beene applied the use of inexpensive fabrics such as sweatshirt and denim fabric for evening dresses. Introduced in 1971, the Beene Bag line of women’s wear used the same silhouettes as his couture line. By the mid-1970s, Beene had a number of licensing agreements for products such as eyeglasses and bed sheets. In 1976, Beene became the first American designer to show a collection in Milan, Italy.  This success led to his sixth Coty Award in 1977, for giving impetus to American fashion abroad. In 1982, Beene received his eighth Coty Award; the most awarded to any one designer, as of the early 2000s.[3]

In 1986, Beene was named The Council of Fashion Designers of America's Designer of the Year. Two years later, the Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded Beene The Special Award for Fashion as Art.  In 1989, he opened the first Geoffrey Beene retail boutique on Fifth Avenue.

Beene's clients included Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Nancy Reagan, Faye Dunaway and Glenn Close.[4] Beene was known as both an innovator and a teacher. Several of his former apprentices, Kay Unger, Alber Elbaz and Doo Ri Chung are now successful fashion designers, thanks to his early guidance in their respective careers.

Death[edit]

Beene died on September 28, 2004, due to complications (pneumonia) from cancer at age 77. His career in fashion design spanned over 40 years.

Legacy[edit]

In honor of Beene’s fashion legacy, the Council of Fashion Designers of America created the annual Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement award in 1984.

Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients[5]
Year Recipient
1984 James Galanos
1985 Katharine Hepburn
1986 Bill Blass
1987 Georgio Armani
1988 Nancy Reagan
1989 Oscar De La Renta
1990 Martha Graham
1991 Ralph Lauren
1997 Geoffrey Beene
1999 Yves Saint Laurent
2000 Valentino
2001 Calvin Klein
2002 Karl Lagerfeld
2003 Anna Wintour
2004 Donna Karan
2005 Diane von Furstenberg
2006 Stan Herman
2007 Robert Lee Morris
2008 Carolina Herrera
2009 Anna Sui
2010 Michael Kors
2011 Marc Jacobs
2012 Tommy Hilfiger
2013 Vera Wang

The Herbert S. Ford Memorial Museum in Homer, the seat of Claiborne Parish, has an exhibit on Claiborne Parish native Beene.[6]

Charitable activities[edit]

All net profits from Geoffrey Beene products are donated to philanthropic causes, such as cancer research, Alzheimer's research, domestic violence prevention and response, Save the Children, and educational programs, including scholarships for students majoring in fashion and related disciplines.[7]

In 2007, The Geoffrey Beene Foundation formed a strategic alliance with the FSF YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund to further the mutual goal of expanding support for students seeking careers in the Fashion Industry. The foundation has donated to the FSF in excess of $3.6 million, out of approximately $4.1 million committed through 2014.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Geoffrey Beene Biography". Infoplease.com. 
  2. ^ "Geoffrey Beene fashion designer". 
  3. ^ "Designer Geoffrey Beene dead at 77". NBC's Today show. 
  4. ^ "Geoffrey Beene: 1927-2004 - Death, Fashion Designers and Stylists". People Magazine. 
  5. ^ "CFDA Fashion Awards". Council of Fashion Designers of America. 
  6. ^ "Haynesville, Louisiana". 
  7. ^ "Geoffrey Beene website". 

External links[edit]