Fashion innovator André Courrèges passed away yesterday at the age of 92 after battling Parkinson’s disease. A former engineer, was fascinated with science and technology calling his atelier his “secret laboratory.” Later on in life, he turned his design energies to Hitachi robots, Honda motor scooters and Minolta cameras.
“Sometimes a dress isn’t able to communicate all the emotions that I wish to convey.”
Courrèges began studying civil engineering before switching to fashion. He worked under the great Cristóbal Balenciaga for a decade before starting his own line in 1961 (with backing from Balenciaga himself). Some press found his work infantilizing, with the AP saying,
“He stops just short of diapers in giving age-conscious American women the youngest collection of clothes ever cut in adult sizes.”
But modern women got it fast and soon, everyone from Catherine Deneuve to Audrey Hepburn, who sported one of his signature looks in How to Steal a Million, were wearing his far-out fashions.
He was widely credited with inventing the miniskirt (but Mary Quant also claimed ownership) and the so-called “second-skin”— think a onesie made from tights. He favored flat shoes, modern fabrics like PVC and plastic, and A-line silhouettes that were meant to be worn without a bra, as opposed to the strict New Look with its wasp waists and padded busts.
“The clothes float. You don’t feel them.”
NASA brought him in to visit mission control at Cape Canavaral, surely a first for a fashion designer. But as fashion marched on, the consummate futurist didn’t adapt to the present day, but clung to his own dated vision of the future.
In the ’90s, he left his label to become a painter and sculptor, and his wife and longtime collaborator Coqueline took over design duties at the house. Since then, the brand has changed ownership several times but never seemed to be revived like others have. Take a look at his early work which can still inspire.
(via NY Mag)