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.
Pattern-Vault has a couple of very interesting posts on Courreges. Also this article from the V&A iintroduces their small collection.
Those clothes were so exciting when Courreges brought them out, and still, after all this time, the balance of his designs and the professionalism of the tailoring stands out. Of course fashion wouldn’t be fashion if we didn’t follow this clarity with a back to nature flowery and flowing look or the flamboyant excesses of psychedelia.
I remember these well and the white boots…we called them go-go boots from watching all the dance/music shows when all the dancers wore them on stage. Such a departure from normal fashions of the day but as the pendulum swings we went right into the flower power, no bra, unstructured look of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Designers like singers/song writers rarely recapture the inspiration of their best years but at least they make their mark for all time. As soon as you see these clothes…you KNOW what era it was. I think even stewardesses wore his clothes as uniforms at that time.
You’re right Mrs. Mole! The Museum of Flight in Seattle has a large collection of flight attendant uniforms called “Style in the Aisle”. There’s still a Courreges uniform displayed on the website.
Oh my – how I would like to see that exhibition. I will have to come to Seattle.
It’s a lovely direct flight on the polar route.;)
Beautiful designs and they would be perfect for my flat-chested frame. I love clothes that celebrate a slightly androgynous look.