André Courrèges

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André Courrèges
Born (1923-03-09)9 March 1923
Pau, France
Died 7 January 2016(2016-01-07) (aged 92)
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France
Nationality French
Occupation Fashion designer
Labels Courrèges

André Courrèges (pronounced: [andʁe kuʁɛʒ]; 9 March 1923 – 7 January 2016) was a French fashion designer. He was particularly known for his streamlined 1960s designs influenced by modernism and futurism, exploiting modern technology and new fabrics. Courrèges defined the go-go boot and along with Mary Quant, is one of the designers credited with inventing the miniskirt.

Career[edit]

Go-go boots by André Courrèges, 1965
1967 yellow wool Courrèges dress

At 25, after studying to be a civil engineer, Courrèges went to Paris to work at the fashion house Jeanne Lafaurie.[1] A few months later, he went to work for Cristóbal Balenciaga.[2]

In 1961, Courrèges launched his own fashion house.[2] He became known for extremely simple, geometric, modern designs, including the "little white dress" and pants for women.[2] They were often paired with low-heeled white ankle boots, a style that became known as the Courrèges boot, and evolved into the popular go-go boot.[3][4][5]

Courrèges was also known for the miniskirt, which he explicitly claimed to have invented, accusing his London rival to the claim, Mary Quant of merely "commercialising" it.[6] Courrèges presented short skirts (four inches above the knee) in January 1965 for that year's Spring/Summer collection.[7] He had presented "above-the-knee" skirts in the previous year, with his August 1964 haute couture presentation proclaimed the "best show seen so far" for that season by The New York Times.[8] Valerie Steele has stated that Courrèges was designing short skirts as early as 1961, although she champions Quant's claim to have created the miniksirt first as being more convincingly supported by evidence.[6] Others, such as Jess Cartner-Morley of The Guardian explicitly credit Courrèges with having invented the miniskirt.[9] Alongside short skirts, Courrèges was renowned for his trouser suits, cut-out backs and midriffs, all designed for a new type of athletic, active young woman.[7] Steele has described Courrèges's work as a "brilliant couture version of youth fashion."[6] One of Courrèges's most distinctive looks, a knit bodystocking with a gabardine miniskirt slung around the hips, was widely copied and plagiarised, much to his chagrin, and it would be 1967 before he again held a press showing for his work.[7]

Courrèges's favoured materials included plastics such as vinyl and stretch fabrics like Lycra.[2] While he preferred white and silver, he often used flashes of citrus colour,[10] and the predominantly white designs in his August 1964 show were tempered with touches of his signature clear pink, a "bright stinging" green, various shades of brown from dark to pale, and poppy red.[8]

In 1967 Courrèges married Coqueline Barrière, his design assistant. They had met while working together at Balenciaga, and worked together as a husband and wife team for the rest of his life.[10]

In 1968 Courrèges sold a share of his company to L'Oréal in order to finance his expansion, which, by 1972, included 125 boutiques around the world. That year, Courrèges was commissioned to design staff uniforms for the Munich Olympics that year.[10] He began offering menswear in 1973.[10]

Honda Tact motor scooter designed by Courrèges

In early 1983, Courrèges worked with the Japanese motor company Honda to design special editions of their TACT motor scooter. By 2005, Itokin held the Japanese ready-to-wear license for the Courrèges brand, with a retail value of €50 million.[11] By this point, Madame Courrèges had succeeded her husband as artistic director for the brand, Courrèges having retired in 1995 following their successful reclamation of the brand in 1994 despite several ownership changes.[10] As of 2012, 50% of the firm's total income was from license royalties.[11]

In 2011 Andre and Coqueline Courrèges sold the Courrèges brand to two advertising executives, Jacques Bungert and Frédéric Torloting.[10] After a long absence from Paris Fashion Week, September 2015 saw the presentation of a new Courrèges collection designed by new creative directors Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant.[10]

Later life and death[edit]

Courrèges suffered from Parkinson's disease for the last 30 years of his life.[2] He died on 7 January 2016, aged 92, and was survived by his wife and their daughter.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Erik Orsenna (2008). Courrèges (in French). Éditions Xavier Barral. p. 228. ISBN 978-2-915173-27-7. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Weil, Martin (2016-01-09). "Andre Courrèges, 92, French fashion designer known for miniskirt, dies". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-01-09. 
  3. ^ O'Keeffe, Linda (2014). "The Shoe that left an Imprint: The Go-Go Boot". Shoes: A Celebration of Pumps, Sandals, Slippers & More. Workman Publishing. pp. 338–339. ISBN 0761173439. 
  4. ^ Cumming, Valerie; Cunnington, C.W.; Cunnington, P.E. (2010). The dictionary of fashion history. Oxford: Berg. p. 108. ISBN 9781847887382. 
  5. ^ O'Hara, Georgina (1986). The encyclopaedia of fashion. New York: H.N. Abrams. p. 79. ISBN 9780810908826. 
  6. ^ a b c Steele, Valerie (2000). Fifty years of fashion : new look to now (English ed.). New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 51–64. ISBN 9780300087383. 
  7. ^ a b c Polan, Brenda; Tredre, Roger (2009). "André Courrèges". The great fashion designers (English ed.). Oxford: Berg Publishers. pp. 123–125. ISBN 9780857851741. 
  8. ^ a b Peterson, Patricia (3 August 1964). "Courrèges Is Star of Best Show Seen So Far". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 January 2016. 
  9. ^ Cartner-Morley, Jess (2 December 2000). "Chelsea girl who instigated a new era". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2012. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h Friedman, Vanessa (8 January 2016). "André Courrèges, Fashion Designer Who Redefined Couture, Dies at 92". The New York Times. p. A15. 
  11. ^ a b Chevalier, Michel (2012). Luxury Brand Management. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-17176-9. 

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