André Courrèges, ‘Space Age’ Designer and Creator of the Miniskirt, Dies at 92
A few months after his namesake brand was fantastically resurrected during the Spring-Summer 2016 season, legendary designer André Courrèges passed away at the age of 92 after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. While the tributes from the fashion community pour in (we particularly like this Instagram post featuring a Irving Penn photograph by Vogue’s Hamish Bowles), let’s take a minute to marvel at his remarkable life.
– Courrèges was a disciple of famed couturier (and fellow Basque) Cristóbal Balenciaga, with whom he worked from 1950-1961. After which time, he opened up his own couture house.
– While well regarded within the industry, it was his 1964 “Space Age” collection that really skyrocketed him to fame. It featured suntanned models wearing all white clothes and introduced the miniskirt in the midst of the Swinging Sixties. The minis hit three inches above the knee. Scandal!
A group of six models show the 1968 fashion line from designer Andre Courreges, Paris, France, 1968. Photo: Bill Ray/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
– The collection inspired other designers such as Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabanne to also create futuristic fashion collections and caused Vogue to proclaim, “To wear Courrèges you must give yourself to him completely. Surrender.” Jacqueline Kennedy, the Duchess of Windsor, and Françoise Hardy quickly became fans.
– His clothing was also admired by Andy Warhol and his friends at the Factory. “Courrèges clothes are so beautiful, everyone should look the same, dressed in silver,” said the artist at the time. “Silver merges into everything, costumes should be worn during the day with lots of make-up.”
– In 1967, he introduced a diffusion line called Couture Future, which offered the same designs at a lower price point.
– By the early 1970s, he moved away from the “Space Age” look, reluctantly accepting that more bohemian styles had come into play. He didn’t stay focused on fashion for long, instead utilizing his architecture degree to design buildings.
Model jumping in a yellow Courrèges cotton dress, plunged at the neck with rounded pockets. On her head she is wearing a purple dutch-boy wig, and on her feet white bobby socks and black patent leather shoes. Photo: Bert Stern/Condé Nast via Getty Images
– In 1972, he designed the garments for the 15,000 employees of the Munich Olympic Games.
– According to WWD, his wife and muse, Coqueline Courrèges, continued to run the label until 2011, when she sold it to Jacques Bungert and Frédéric Torloting, two former advertising executives who have set about restoring the house to its former glory.
– In May of this past year, the company tapped Coperni Femme designers to be the creative directors of the label. Their first collection, shown during the Spring-Summer 2016 collections to much fanfare, focused on the simple garments and geometric shapes that were emblematic of the line’s founder.
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