I realised it has been a while since I wrote a post about a designer I love, so today I bring you André Courrèges. I thought I’d try a slightly different format, too, and put the whole biography at the beginning (it’s all copied from Wikipedia, the shame!) and then put all the pictures, so you can skip the words if you just want to swoon at some amazing 60s fashion!
André Courrèges was a French fashion designer who only died last year but was one of the main designers of the 60s whose designs were influenced by modernism and futurism. He also “defined the go-go boot and along with Mary Quant, is one of the designers credited with inventing the miniskirt.”1
“At 25, after studying to be a civil engineer, Courrèges went to Paris to work at the fashion house Jeanne Lafaurie. A few months later, he went to work for Cristóbal Balenciaga.
In 1961, Courrèges launched his own fashion house. He became known for extremely simple, geometric, modern designs, including the “little white dress” and pants for women. They were often paired with low-heeled white ankle boots, a style that became known as the Courrèges boot, and evolved into the popular go-go boot.
Courrèges was also known for the miniskirt, which he explicitly claimed to have invented, accusing his London rival to the claim, Mary Quant of merely “commercialising” it. Courrèges presented short skirts (four inches above the knee) in January 1965 for that year’s Spring/Summer collection. He had presented “above-the-knee” skirts in the previous year, with his August 1964 haute couture presentation proclaimed the “best show seen so far” for that season by The New York Times. Valerie Steele has stated that Courrèges was designing short skirts as early as 1961, although she champions Quant’s claim to have created the miniksirt first as being more convincingly supported by evidence. Others, such as Jess Cartner-Morley of The Guardian explicitly credit Courrèges with having invented the miniskirt. Alongside short skirts, Courrèges was renowned for his trouser suits, cut-out backs and midriffs, all designed for a new type of athletic, active young woman. Steele has described Courrèges’s work as a “brilliant couture version of youth fashion.” One of Courrèges’s most distinctive looks, a knit bodystocking with a gabardine miniskirt slung around the hips, was widely copied and plagiarised, much to his chagrin, and it would be 1967 before he again held a press showing for his work.
Courrèges’s favoured materials included plastics such as vinyl and stretch fabrics like Lycra. While he preferred white and silver, he often used flashes of citrus colour, and the predominantly white designs in his August 1964 show were tempered with touches of his signature clear pink, a “bright stinging” green, various shades of brown from dark to pale, and poppy red.
In 1967 Courrèges married Coqueline Barrière, his design assistant. They had met while working together at Balenciaga, and worked together as a husband and wife team for the rest of his life.
In 1968 Courrèges sold a share of his company to L’Oréal in order to finance his expansion, which, by 1972, included 125 boutiques around the world. That year, Courrèges was commissioned to design staff uniforms for the Munich Olympics that year. He began offering menswear in 1973.”2
I thought I’d start with some of his wackier designs! This is surely not at all actually wearable, but I do still slightly love it. I guess you could wear a polo neck underneath and some thick tights or trousers?
I really like this one too – I think it’s the funnel neck collars and the swingy shape. Again, this would be wearable with something underneath. Or I’m tempted to try to recreate it but with a contrasting colour instead of the transparent section!
And now onto the slightly more ‘normal’ looking clothes. He has a good line in jacket/dress combos. I’m not sure these would be flattering on me as I have a long body compared to my legs and I feel these would accentuate that, but I do think the models look really cool. Especially with his trademark ankle boots.
He definitely likes stripes! I like this double-breasted version of the jacket – and it has a matching striped lining to the skirt! Not sure about the hats though….
I’m not really a brown person, but I like the combination of fabrics on this one.
If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know how much I like blue, and particularly navy blue, and particularly navy blue with white/cream, so this is amazing to me. I can’t really see the dress underneath, but I do kinda want to copy this outfit, even though I would probably never wear it!
But actually this is definitely my absolute favourite of the long coats I found searching for images of Courrèges’ clothes. I wouldn’t make it in red, but I really might add this to my list of makes, once I vaguely learn how to draft things for myself – and learn how to draft something as complicated as a coat! Maybe I could pattern hack something, so I at least have a starting point. Maybe the Closet Case Patterns Clare coat (though it has raglan sleeves)? If you have any other ideas of a pattern I could hack to make this, please let me know! I have plans for another coat this year, but I could make this one early next year and still get some wear out of it!
The other main category of garments I found when researching Courrèges was, of course, shift dresses. He definitely seems to use really interesting seam lines and shapes to make his stand out from what was probably a very saturated market!
I do really quite like the scallops on this one. And I like the orange, though it wouldn’t be a colour I would usually wear!
Fabric choice is definitely key for this cream dress, though, again, there are interesting seam lines and details. He seems to emphasise the seam lines with a sort of piping, as below. Does anyone know how it would be done?
I put this one in to show how a dress with a massive hole in can become wearable with a polo neck underneath!
Yellow is really moving up the list of my favourite colours to wear, after blue, of course. I really like the lines on this dress and the modest – for Courrèges anyway – cut out at the neckline. I like the faux wrap style of the bodice too, I think it’s really cute.
And here is Diana Ross in an amazing yellow dress and coat – I particularly like the coat – and a slightly blue wig!
Whenever I do one of these posts, I really want to make a copy of pretty much every outfit I find! Which would be the one (or the first one) you would want to make/wear?