Jacques Heim

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For the French-born choreographer and grandson of Jacques Heim, see Jacques Heim (choreographer).
Jacques Heim
Born (1899-05-08)8 May 1899
Paris, France
Died 8 January 1967(1967-01-08) (aged 67)
Neuilly, France
Children Philippe Heim
Arianne Heim

Jacques Heim (Paris, 8 May 1899 – Neuilly, 8 January 1967) was a French fashion designer and costume designer for theater and film, and was a manufacturer of women's furs. From 1930 to his death in 1967, he ran the fashion house (maison de couture) House of Jacques Heim, which closed in 1969. He was president of the Paris Chambre Syndicale de la haute couture from 1958 to 1962, a period of transition from haute couture to ready-to-wear clothing.

Career[edit]

In the early 1920s, Heim started working in his parents' fur business, which they had founded in 1898.[1] His parents were Isadore and Jeanne Heim, Jews of Polish origin. He took over the business in 1923, and within a few years had added a couture department,[2] designing dresses and coats, made with original fabrics, working in collaboration with Sonia Delaunay. In 1930, the workshop became the fashion house House of Jacques Heim. He also made ready-to-wear and in 1936 started a line for younger women, Heim Jeunes Filles.[2] In 1932, Heim creates a two-pieces swimsuit consisting of a bra with ruffles and pretty bloomers, which he called the "Atome". However, women were not yet ready to reveal their midriff, with only a few daring to wear his swimsuit.[3]

He was harassed during the Nazi occupation of France, but managed to stay in business by putting a non-Jewish "front man" in charge of his fashion house.[4] He was an active member of the French resistance.[5][6]

In 1946 Heim started a chain of sportswear boutiques. In June 1946, he relaunched the two-piece swimsuit, which he called the Atome, which he advertised as "the world's smallest bathing suit." However, on July 5, 1946, Louis Réard, a French engineer, had a Paris stripper pose before reporters in an even briefer two-piece swimsuit, which Réard called the Bikini, and which he promoted as "smaller than the smallest bathing suit". Réard's design, unlike Heim's, for the first time presented a female swimsuit with the navel exposed. Though financially successful, the bikini was very controversial. Réard's name for the swimsuit caught on, and became the common name for the style of swimwear.[4] In 1950, he launched another ready-to-wear line, Heim Actualité.[2]

Under the presidency of General de Gaulle, he was appointed designer of his wife, Yvonne de Gaulle. His most prominent clients were Sophia Loren, Queen Fabiola of Belgium, Mamie Eisenhower and actress Gloria Swanson.[7] In 1956, Heim made the bikini an international sensation when Brigitte Bardot wore one of his designs.[4][7]

Legacy[edit]

His son is Philippe Heim and daughter is Arianne Heim. In August 1968, Philippe Heim took over the House of Jacques Heim and all associated companies and stores,[8] but the business was sold in 1969 to French concern Henri Michmacher, who owned several boutiques under the name of Pronuptia.[9]

A grandson is also named Jacques Heim, and is the director of the Diavolo Dance Theater, a well-known Los Angeles company.[4]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]