Andre Courreges died last month at the ripe old age of 92. Although he kept designing throughout the 70s and 80s, he never again achieved the same sense of having spoken, in clothes, for the moment. This image, I think from 1963, of men, women and children dressed head to toe in Courreges showed he had a sense of a whole new lifestyle that was definitely futuristic. If your designs are for the future it is difficult to keep reinventing them when the future arrives. Also, of course, when the 1970s actually came along there was a reaction to the shapes, fabrics and ideas that Courreges had so brilliantly expressed. Instead of becoming more futuristic, shine,ier whiter, more synthetic, shorter, slimmer, the look became browner, more natural, softer, drapier and longer.
For me he summed up the 1960s with his mini-skirt, very young, skinny undeveloped models, his futuristic colours (white, silver) and his radical new aesthetic. The deceptively simple dresses here are mini-length shift dresses cut across the mid-thigh or a little lower. The “shapeless” look is infantile, with bonnets and booties to match. Often in white, or with white geometric shapes, they frequently appear in bright primary or secondary colours – yellow, red, blue, orange and green. purple . They flatter the tall, slim models with skinny legs emphasised by “go-go” boots or little socks and flat shoes. These images are all from the mid-60s – too early and you will find Courreges doing something rather traditional with a twist – too late and fashion has passed on to the next fad leaving him behind.
The dress and skirt were very much of the period – but when Courrege addressed the suit he did even more radical work. The mismatching skirt and jacket – stripes and plain, or the introduction of shorts, slim trousers with stripes and interesting linings are all very radical and exciting. We see how he is incorporating lots of ideas from sportswear here – his girls skip and jump and wear clothes that don’t constrict. The chunky details – hats, belts, sunglasses, and boots – make the wearer appear smaller and slimmer – again more childlike.
Mia Farrow (by David Bailey) in the first photograph is the ideal model for Courreges – she looks like a young boy with bony legs and cropped hair. I love this coat, and the adjoining double-breasted white coat with black trim. I want to make something like this for my SWAP. In terms of forward-looking fashion the hooded fur coat is amazing with its geometric structural carapace, emphasised by slim sleeves and the fur ruffle round the neck.