Guy Laroche

Born: La Rochellle, France, 1921
Died: Paris, France, 1989

Guy Laroche moved to Paris at the age of 25 with no obvious goals or interest in fashion. Through a cousin already working at Jean Patou, he secured a job at the fashion house. This led to him visiting several French couture houses and ‘falling in love’ with fashion.

Laroche secured a job as an assistant at Jean Dessès, where he stayed for eight years. In 1950 he moved to New York and began freelancing. In 1955 he began to study new methods of manufacturing ready-to-wear clothing.

Laroche returned to Paris opening his own couture house in 1957. Working from his apartment, his first collection was created for autumn/winter 57. Sixty different looks turned Laroche from a virtual unknown to a great couturier overnight launching the beginning of his success.

Originally influenced by Balenciaga, Laroche soon took on a younger, fresher, less formal style. His creation of evening pants were worn by the most fashionable women in Paris.

Four years later, due to the success of his growing business, Laroche was able to expand and moved his label from his apartment to the Avenue Montaigne. The same year Laroche diversified his couture business and launched his first ready-to-wear collection. He also opened his first boutique at the same address in the same year.

Laroche’s label continued to grow, specialising in reversible coats and traditional patterns. The sixties also saw his trademark loose waist-less sheath and the addition of perfume and menswear to the House in 1966.

The following decade more fragrances were added along with the launch of Guy Laroche Diffusion, the House’s new ready-to-wear line. The seventies saw Laroche create the women’s trouser suit. It became a wardrobe staple and was seen as liberating women.

In 1985 Laroche won the Haute Couture Golden Thimble award for the autumn/winter 85 collection. Two years later Laroche was again honoured and awarded the insignia of Chevalier de L’Ordre de la Legion d’Honneur.

In 1989, shortly before his death, Laroche received his second Golden Thimble for his spring/summer 89 collection

Leaving behind a couture and ready-to-wear empire, Micheal Kleine took over designing the couture line with Jean Piere Marty focussing on ready-to-wear. In 1996 Alber Elbaz was employed. Most recently, Marcel Marongiu was appointed as artistic director in 2007.

Guy Laroche’s designs initially offered a subtle sophistication, reminiscent of Balenciaga. The conservative style developed into a more feminine, younger feel as colour and informality embraced his designs. An excellent cutter, Laroche was known for his vibrant colours, plunging necklines and low back lines.

Guy Laroche Biography

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Written by Saxony Dudbridge

Saxony Dudbridge was one of the first contributors to the Catwalk Yourself project, Saxony studies International Fashion Marketing and she is responsible for our great History and Designers Biographies sections.

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