Andrè Courrèges biography
Born: Pau, France, 1923
Andrè Courrèges initially studied Engineering and went on to serve as an Air Force pilot at Aix-en-Provence in 1944. He left the Air Force two years later and enrolled at a training college deciding to study fashion and textile design.
After graduating the following year, Courrèges was taken on as a designer at the Jeanne Lafaurie couture House where he worked for four years. In 1951 Courrèges was offered a job at Balenciaga. Remaining here for ten years, Courrèges learnt Balenciaga’s exquisite cutting skills.
While at Balenciaga, Courrèges met Coqueline Barriere. After leaving the fashion house, the pair set up their own Paris couture house in 1961 with Cristobal Balenciaga’s personal support and financial assistance.
Realising women’s roles were changing; Courrèges introduced trousers for every occasion in 1963. Seen as a radical idea, he pushed the message that trousers could be suitable for both formal and casual events.
In 1965 Courrèges’ January collection caused a sensation. Presenting the first ‘mini’ seen in Paris, his collection debuted with radically different clothes. Angular mini dresses and trouser suits made out of heavyweight fabrics featured alongside cut out midriffs worn with no bras. They were accessorised with flat boots, goggles and helmets taken from astronauts’ equipment. The unusual shapes with white and silver colours were immediately branded Space Age creating Courrèges’ iconic style.
His following collection saw his designs widely plagiarized and, as a result, Courrèges held no more press shows and only designed for his individual customers. In 1967 Courrèges returned with the launch of his haute couture collection “Couture Future”. Aiming to make his couture clothing more accessible, he produced fifteen different designs in four to five sizes and had them mass produced. This enabled them to be sold at twenty percent of the usual price.
In 1970 Courrèges launched the “Hyperbole” collection for the mass market. That same year he launched his first perfume, “Empreinte”.
In 1972 Courrèges designed the uniforms for the Munich Olympics. The following year the “Courrèges Homme” line was launched for men. Four years later he launched his first fragrance for men, “FH77”.
In 1979-80 Courrèges launched a licensing system for his company, which led to Japanese firm Itokin acquiring a majority interest in the firm. In 1986, after failing to show a collection the previous year, Courrèges lost the Haute Couture label.
Courrèges regained control of the company in 1993. The same year he brought in Jean-Charles de Castellbajac to design collections for the label. Three years later Courrèges retired from the business leaving his wife Coqueline to run the company. In 2011 the couple sold the company to Frederic Torloting and Jacques Bungert.
A visionary of his time, Andrè Courrèges produced stark, futuristic clothes. Precision cuts were seen on geometric shapes creating a modern style that featured a youthful air. Embracing the possibilities of the future, Courrèges was a true modernist designer.
Andrè Courrèges biography