Jules-François Crahay

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Jules-François Crahay
Jules-François Crahay

(1917-05-21)21 May 1917
Liège, Belgium
Died5 January 1988(1988-01-05) (aged 70)
Monte Carlo, Monaco
AwardsNeiman Marcus Fashion Award, 1962

Jules-François Crahay (1917–1988) was a Belgian-born French fashion designer who worked for the houses of Nina Ricci (1952–1963) and Lanvin as head designer (1963–1983).[1] He won the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award in 1962.[2]

Early life[edit]

Crahay was born in Liège.[1] His mother, Francoise Crahay, was a Belgian couturier who gave her son his first experience as a sketcher for her when he was 13.[1] Between 1934 and 1936, he studied art and fashion in Paris before rejoining his mother in the business.[1]

During the Second World War Crahay was a non-commissioned officer in the Belgian Army before being captured and spending five years as a prisoner-of-war in Germany.[3]


After the War, Crahay opened his own haute couture house in Paris in 1951, but it was unsuccessful.[1] In Crahay's words, it was a "financial flop after one year,"[3] but he was subsequently employed by Robert Ricci as a designer for his mother's couture house.[1] In 1959, he was made chief designer for Nina Ricci.[3] While at Ricci, his bell-skirted suits and small-waisted dresses were described as having "charm,"[3] and described as the "youngest, most feminine thing in Paris."[4]

Crahay joined Lanvin in 1964. Following his first collection, the journalist Eugenia Sheppard declared "Crahay's gay, wisecracking style and Lanvin's elegant workroom get together like bread and butter. Lanvin calms down Crahay and Crahay peps up the conservative old house."[5] She also described how his colours stood out among that season's "terribly washed-out" palette, praised his use of abstract, "unromantic" prints, and noted his inventive coatdresses.[5]

Crahay was known for combining a wide range of influences and sources of inspiration in his designs, rather than focusing on single sources. Two 1971 ensembles called Málaga (after the Spanish municipality) and Djerba (after the North African island) were made up in exclusive fabrics by the Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi.[6][7] A 1977 collection combined references to Russia, Tibet and North Africa.[1]

Crahay's last collection at Lanvin before he retired in 1984 won the Golden Thimble award for the season's best couture collection. The former model Jan Strimple commented: "Couture clothes generally don't fit into our way of life. But these were loose and layered and not at all pretentious. We all wanted to have them."[8]

Later life and death[edit]

Following his retirement Crahay divided his time between Saint-Raphaël and Monte Carlo, where he died of a heart attack in 1988.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Morris, Bernardine (8 January 1988). "Obituary: Jules-François Crahay, Designer". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  2. ^ Staff writer (25 October 2002). "The Neiman's Seal of Approval". Women's Wear Daily. via Highbeam (subscription required). Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 2 March 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d Walker, Nadeane (24 February 1959). "Jules Francois Crahay: Greatest since Dior? Spurned Once, Designer Wins Fashion's Heart". The Miami News. The Associated Press. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  4. ^ Sheppard, Eugenia (29 July 1959). "Ricci Collection Says It Again, Bigger and Better". The Toledo Blade. HTNS. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  5. ^ a b Sheppard, Eugenia (30 January 1964). "Dior Endorses 'Young Look' for Spring". Toledo Blade. IITNS. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  6. ^ Staff writer. "Málaga: Day ensemble by Crahay for Lanvin, 1971". Search the Collections. Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  7. ^ Staff writer. "Djerba: Two piece dress by Crahay for Lanvin, 1971". Search the Collections. Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
  8. ^ Staff writer (8 August 1984). "Fashion News and Notes". New York Times News Service. Retrieved 6 March 2015.