«Where do his tennis dresses, his sailor dresses come from? Where did he find them? On the steps of Delphi. In the wardrobe of Electra. They are modern and they are antique.»
Violette Leduc ‘Is Courrèges Wearable?’ Vogue, 1965.
September marked Courrèges‘ first runway show in 13 years, and the House’s new designers Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant offered a fresh take on the iconic «Space Age» classics. The LVMH Prize finalists got down to the basics, a great start to revive André Courrèges’ famous label of the ’60s. Unfortunately, Monsieur Courrèges, who retired from his vocation in the mid-1990s, won’t experience this relaunch to the fullest. Last week, he lost his 30 year battle with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 92.
Born in 1923 in France, Courrèges was a major force in ’60s fashion and helped define a generation. After graduating in engineering, he studied fashion and textile design which got him a job at . He Balenciaga for ten years, where he developped his great skills in cutting garments. In 1961 he launched his own eponymous fashion house.
His breakthrough came with his 1964 «Space Age» collection. Stars such as Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve loved the designer’s ground-breaking geometry, plastic miniskirts and futuristic textiles.
His favorite silhouette was known as «Moon Girl» look, that he embellished with oddities such as googles and astronaut helmets.
Courrèges was also known for his extremely short angular mini skirts and trouser suits in black-and-white. Over many years, there was a dispute with Mary Quant, who claimed to have first popularized the miniskirt. Regardless of who came first, his skirts were definitely the shortest and his creations came to symbolize the Swinging Sixties.
In 1967, Courrèges married his assistant, Coqueline Barriere who took over artistic direction of the company upon his retirement. In 2011, the couple sold a majority stake of their company to two Frédéric Torloting and Jacques Bungert, the two former co-presidents of the Paris branch of Young & Rubicam.
Last Spring, Estée Lauder and Courrèges collaborated and launched a 12-piece make-up, including the first false lashes for the beauty giant, and added Kendall Jenner as their face. To shop, please click here.
French President Francois Hollande paid tribute in a statement that described Courrèges as a “revolutionary designer” who “made his mark on French haute couture.”
Another fashion icon has left our planet. Rest in peace, Monsieur Courrèges and thank you!
Photos: Courtesy of Courrèges, Estée Lauder, via Vogue, AGIP/RDA/EVERETT COLLECTION, Getty Images