Bobbins: Label Love- Courrèges

When I was a teenager in the 1980's there was a resurgence in 1960's mod style. French designer, Courrèges quickly became one of my favorites, and still is to this day! He defined an era, broke molds, and his designs are instantly recognizable. 

 Famous Eskimo sunglasses

Famous Eskimo sunglasses

History

André Courrèges was born in the Basque country of France. Before pursuing fashion he studied engineering. From 1950-1961 he worked for Balenciaga. Balenciaga was a designer who despite having conservatively wealthy customers was ahead of the times in design. He often fused architecture style into his designs and was a master of innovation in draping. André learned so much from working in the Balenciaga atelier before striking out on his own. 

In the early 1960's when he started his own label, a "youthquake" erupted in fashion. London was the epicenter of a new style that glorified youth culture with the likes of Mary Quant, Twiggy, and scooter culture (think Quadrophenia). This sent shock waves to the couture houses in Paris. André embraced it. With his disciplined training he was able to take this trend and combine it with the high fashion elements Paris was known for. Along with Mary Quant, he is known for the mini-skirt and the fashion revolution that caused. 

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In 1964, Courrèges debuted his Space Age Collection. It was a huge success and Vogue named him designer of the year. It is through this collection that Courrèges defined his approach to fashion. Minimalism, geometric clean lines, cut outs, technologically advanced fabrics, vivid colors such as pink, orange, green, white, and silver, goggle like sunglasses, helmets, and his famous white boots became what he was known for. His designer peers, Paco Rabanne and Pierre Cardin were heavily influenced and followed in the futuristic look. Quick to be copied by manufacturers, Courrèges registered many of designs. 

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Because of his ability to mesh intellect and a strong design ethic, with youth style he dressed many famous clients from Jackie Kennedy and her sister Lee Radziwill, the Duchess of Windsor, Aubrey Hepburn, and Catherine Deneuve among many. 

 Catherine Deneuve in Courrèges

Catherine Deneuve in Courrèges

Riding on his success, Courrèges came up with other lines to expand his design empire. In 1967 he launched Prototype; a made to order custom direction. At the end of the 60's Couture Future brought him into the 1970s with high end ready to wear. A fragrance called Emrpeinte and a menswear ready to wear line came out in 1973. In the 1980's Hyperbole reached more customers with a lower priced line and in 1985 he sold his company to a Japanese firm. Courrèges is still made today with a focus on his key elements from the 1960's. Andre passed away last year. He will always be known for the modernization of fashion in the 1960's and beyond. For pushing boundaries but also keeping the traditions of the couture houses. A wonderful mix that is still relevant today. 

 Courrèges with models in his designs

Courrèges with models in his designs

Trademarks

 The famous logo

The famous logo

  • Clean lines
  • Well tailored double breasted coats
  • Visible logo
  • Contrasting trim
  • Sleeveless or short sleeved mini-dresses
  • Welt seaming
  • Hipster pants
  • Vivid colors; pink, orange, green, white, silver
  • Cut-outs
  • Daisies
  • Helmets
  • Sunglasses
  • Flat boots
  • Futuristic fabrics and clear vinyl
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Fab right? What is your favorite look? Your favorite 1960's designer? Leave your comments below, I'd love to hear from you. Be sure to visit my shop for vintage Courrèges pieces, and more! 

 

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xo,

Karen 

Bobbins: Label Love-Sonia Rykiel

Label Love is a new segment of my Fashionable History series here on the blog. I'm excited about it since I do a lot of research on the vintage labels I find and have so many designers that inspire me! What a wonderful way for me to share them with you! To kickstart this blog series is one of my absolute favorites; Sonia Rykiel. 

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Sonia Rykiel was known as the "Queen of Knitwear". As someone who loves and lives in knits and who knits I have always gravitated to her collections. However, I feel that she gave me so much more than just her famous knits. She offered style with ease and an undeniable and seemingly effortless Parisienne chic. Often mimicked but completely her own. The news of her passing last week at the age of 86 saddened me.  I hope this tribute does more than educate. I aim for it to show how her work and aesthetic still shines today.

History

In 1961, Sonia was pregnant and couldn't find any decent maternity clothes that accentuated her figure. So she made herself a sweater dress which started her foray into fashion. By 1968, she opened her first store on Paris' arty Left Bank. At that time fashion was starting to loosen up. Her British contemporary, Mary Quant, was designing mini skirts and freedom in movement and attitude was in the air. Sonia designed clothes that women could wear to work and still be stylish. Just like Coco Chanel in the 1930's Sonia focused on knits with a gamine, boyish silhouette while still undeniably feminine.  

 1963. Francoise Hardy wearing a Rykiel sweater.

1963. Francoise Hardy wearing a Rykiel sweater.

Sonia's line took off in the 1970's. Perfect for every day and perfect timing for the Ready to Wear revolution. Sonia reinvented knitwear to be flattering and special. 

 Models in Rykiel. Early Seventies. 

Models in Rykiel. Early Seventies. 

By the 1980s she, as most designers of her time, expanded her line to many product lines including fragrances, lingerie, cosmetics etc. By the 1990s she was global. Never a designer to shy away from affordable lines and collaborations she did collections with Les 3 Suisses, La Redoute, and not that long ago H&M. She felt it was important to reach everyone. In the mid-nineties her daughter Nathalie became Artistic Director. In 2009 Sonia retired. She was awarded the Legion of Honor by two French Presidents. 

 1990s. Helena Christensen in a Sonia Rykiel ad. Reminiscent of 1930s Coco Chanel. 

1990s. Helena Christensen in a Sonia Rykiel ad. Reminiscent of 1930s Coco Chanel. 

Trademarks

  • Stripes 
  • Disco lurex
  • Slogan sweaters
  • Sporty and fun
  • Parisienne
  • Exposed seams
  • Berets

Sonia's first slogan sweater read "Sensuous". That sums up Sonia, perfectly.