Pauline Trigère

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Pauline Trigère (1912–2002) was a French-born American fashion designer, known for her crisp, tailored cuts and innovative ideas.

Trigère was born in Paris to Russian Jewish parents.[1] Her father Alexandre was a tailor, her mother Cecile was a dressmaker.[2] Trigère designed her first dress in her early teens, but at that age she was more interested in acting and medicine than fashion design.[3] While still living in Paris, Trigère apprenticed at Martial et Armand[4] and married Lazar Radley, a Russian Jewish tailor.[3]

Uneasy about the political situation, Trigère, her mother, her husband, and their two sons left Paris in 1937.[2] Trigère did not foresee running her own business when she first arrived in New York. In a 1984, she said of this time in her life “I was really a little housewife with two small children and I had a husband who really didn’t want his wife to work."[5] After arriving in New York, Trigère found work assisting Travis Banton at Hattie Carnegie. Carnegie closed the shop Trigère worked at after Pearl Harbor, Trigere put together a collection of eleven dresses.[6] Travelling by Greyhound Bus, her brother sold the dresses took the dresses to department across the country.[7] The endeavor was a success and a year later, Trigère took over Carnegie’s lease, paying double the rent.[5] Trigère won the first of her three Coty Awards in 1949.[1] Lazar left the family in 1942 and the couple eventually divorced.[1] According to Trigère, “He didn’t like the competition. That’s why I’m not married to him anymore.”[5]

Trigère did not sketch her designs, she cut and draped from bolts of fabric.[3] Although she was considered "a designer of classy, frill-less ready-to-wear,"[5] Trigère's work was inventive in many ways. In the 1940s, Trigère was among the first designers to use common fabrics as cotton and wool in evening wear.[1] In the 1960s, she introduced the jumpsuit as a fashion staple.[1] In 1967, she designed the first rhinestone bra.[8]

In 1985, Los Angeles Times writer Bettijane Levine described the glamour of Trigère's clothing: "They seem to lend stature or stage presence even to those who don't look commanding in some other designer's outfits. By virtue of their couture-type structure and tailoring, they make even average-height women look statuesque."[9]

In 1961, Trigère became the first name designer to use an African-American model[3] when she hired Beverly Valdes for a permanent position in her store.[10] In response, one major Memphis store threatened to pull their business but when Trigère held firm, the store relented and continued to buy her fashions.[2]

Trigère's fashions were worn by many famous women including Beverly Sills, Evelyn Lauder,[3] Lena Horne, Angela Lansbury, Bette Davis, and Wallis Simpson.[2] Trigère also designing many of Patricia Neal's costumes for Breakfast at Tiffany's, additional dresses were designed by Edith Head.[11]

In 1992, Trigère celebrated her 50th anniversary in fashion with benefit fashion show and dinner for 600 guests at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan.[3] In 1993, Trigère received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.[3] In 2001, she was awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor.[12]

Pauline Trigère's papers are held by Brandeis University Archives & Special Collections.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Award-Winning Designer Pauline Trigere, 93, Dies". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-06-01. 
  2. ^ a b c d HERMAN-COHEN, VALLI (2002-02-15). "Pauline Trigere, 93; Fashion Designer Bridged Cultures". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2016-06-01. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Nemy, Enid (2002-02-14). "Pauline Trigère, Exemplar of American Style, Dies at 93". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-06-01. 
  4. ^ Tierney, Tom (1985-01-01). Great Fashion Designs of the Fifties: 30 Haute Couture Costumes by Dior, Balenciaga and Others. Courier Corporation. ISBN 9780486249605. 
  5. ^ a b c d Petkanas, Christopher. "Fabulous Dead People | Pauline Trigère". T Magazine. Retrieved 2016-06-01. 
  6. ^ "Couturier Pauline Trigere". tribunedigital-thecourant. Retrieved 2016-06-01. 
  7. ^ LLC, New York Media (1992-11-02). New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. 
  8. ^ Marzec, Robert P. (2004-01-01). The Mid-Atlantic Region. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 9780313329548. 
  9. ^ LEVINE, BETTIJANE (1985-08-09). "Grande Dame of N.Y.'s Seventh Avenue Wins the West : Designer Pauline Trigere Introduces Her International Flair to Newport Beach". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2016-06-01. 
  10. ^ Inc, Time (1962-06-29). LIFE. Time Inc. 
  11. ^ Shearer, Stephen Michael (2006-05-19). Patricia Neal: An Unquiet Life. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813137128. 
  12. ^ Felder, Deborah G.; Rosen, Diana (2005-01-01). Fifty Jewish Women Who Changed The World. Citadel Press. ISBN 9780806526560. 
  13. ^ Collections, Robert D. Farber University Archives And Special (2013-08-01). "Brandeis Special Collections Spotlight: Pauline Trigère papers". Brandeis Special Collections Spotlight. Retrieved 2016-06-01. 

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