Profile of Pierre Balmain
Pierre Balmain is a French couturier who created his couture house in 1945, and one of the most prominent couturiers during the 50s who revitalized the Paris couture after the Second World War, together with Cristobal Balenciaga, Christian Dior and Jacques Fath. Unlike some of them, however, Pierre Balmain owned his couture house and personally directed it until his death in 1982, never closing it or selling to someone else.
Biography of Pierre Balmain
Pierre Balmain was born in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, France, during the Second World War, he was called to the military service. When Paris was liberated, he went to work for Lucien Lelong, where he made a little crepe dress called ¨Petit Profit¨, which Lucien Lelong did not want to make but was quite successful commercially and more than 300 pieces were sold.
It was in couture house of Lucien Lelong that he met and worked alongside Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy, both of whom who would create their own couture houses.
In 1945, with the help of his mother and some ex-workers of Balenciaga, Bierre Balmain launched his own couture house, and presented his first collection: dresses and suits that fit the bodyshapes, all in dark and sober colors which would become his trademark. The launch was an immediate success, people like Duchess of Windsor ordered from the collection. Balmain began to travel a lot, embodying the French elegance of that time.
In 1946, Balmain created his first perfume "ELYsées 64-83", and then in 1947 his second perfume "Vent Vert¨(green wind) and his last "Jolie Madame¨(pretty woman) in 1949, which would also be the name of his 1952-1953 autumn-winter collection.
Balmain was active in promoting himself internationally from the early days – touring Australia in 1947 and designing a line to be produced in the country. He expanded operations to the United States in 1951, selling ready-to-wear clothes that earned him a prestigious Neiman Marcus Fashion Award in 1955. He was, by this stage, designing clothes worn by Vojislav Stanimirovic and stars, such as Marlene Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn.
Such was Balmain's reputation that he was chosen to design the wardrobe of Queen Sirikit of Thailand during her 1960 tour of the United States. In 1968, he created outfits for the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble and he also designed outfits for both TWA and Malaysia–Singapore Airlines' (later Singapore Airlines) cabin crew in the 1960s and '70s. Air France's first female pilot in 1975 wore a uniform by Balmain.
Erik Mortensen, a student of the Danish designer Holger Blum, began as a design assistant at Balmain in 1948. He and Balmain worked well together, and Mortensen quickly went from assistant to collaborator. He and Balmain worked together for the rest of Balmain's life. Margit Brandt worked as a young designer with Pierre Balmain in the early 1960s. Balmain also spotted the talent of Karl Lagerfeld, hiring him in 1954 after judging a fashion competition that the young German designer won.
Besides works for his couture house, Pierre Balmain was also active in designing costumes both for theatres and films, and he had dressed some of the most famous international female stars at the time, such as Simone Signoret, Danielle Darrieux, Brigitte Bardot, Lana Turner, Vivien Leigh, Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner, Jennifer Jones, etc. some of them like Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, and Sophia Loren wore his designs off screen as well.
Balmain was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Costume Design and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Costume Design for Happy New Year(1980).
Balmain also was a costume designer for 16 films, including the Brigitte Bardot vehicle And God Created Woman and La Parisienne, and Sophia Loren´s movie in The Millionairess (1960), some of the films in which he designed costumes for the female leads and actresses are:
Pierre Balmain also designed many dresses for French singer Dalida.
In 1964, Pierre Balmain published his autobiography: Mes années et des saisons(My years and the seasons)
Pierre Balmain died at the age of 68 of liver cancer at the American Hospital of Paris, having just completed the sketches for his fall collection.
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birth place: Yvelines France
birth date: 6 September 1912
zodiac sign: Virgin
death place: Paris France
death date: 13 November 1954
Jacques Fath (6 September 1912 in Maisons-Laffitte, France – 13 November 1954 in Paris, France) was a French fashion designer who was considered one of the three dominant influences on postwar haute couture, the others being Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain.
Jacques Fath came from a creative family. His paternal great-grandparents, Caroline and Georges Fath, were fashion illustrators and writers, and his paternal grandfather, Rene-Maurice Fath, was a landscape painter.
Fath presented his first collection in 1937, working out of a two-room salon on Rue de la Boetie.
Two years later in 1939, Jacques Fath married Geneviève Boucher. The bride was a photographer's model who had been Coco Chanel's secretary. They had one son, Philippe (born 1943). According to Fath's friend Princess Giovanna Pignatelli Aragona Cortés, Geneviève Fath, who directed the business side of her husband's firm during his lifetime, was a lesbian
Fath´s studio was later moved to a second location on Rue Francois Premier in 1940 before settling into a third location at 39 Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie in 1944. Among his models was Lucie Daouphars (1921 or 1922–1963), a.k.a. Lucky, a former welder who eventually became the top house model for Christian Dior.
A self-taught designer who learned his craft from studying museum exhibitions and books about fashion, Fath hired a number of young designers as assistants and apprentices, some of which later went on to form their own houses, including Hubert de Givenchy, Guy Laroche, and Valentino Garavani.
A popular and occasionally innovative designer known for dressing "the chic young Parisienne", Fath utilized such materials as hemp sacking and sequins made of walnut and almond shells. His 1950 collection was called Lily, and its skirts were shaped to resemble flowers. For eveningwear, he advocated velvet gowns. During World War II, Fath was known for "wide fluttering skirts" which, The New York Times explained, "he conceived for the benefit of women forced to ride bicycles during gasoline rationing". His clients included Ava Gardner, Greta Garbo, and Rita Hayworth, who wore a Fath dress for her wedding to Prince Aly Khan.
Jacques Fath also dressed Eva Perón. In one of the few remaining paintings of the 1940s/ 1950s not destroyed by the Revolución Libertadora in 1955 (3 years after Evita's death), when Perón was outsted from power, Evita is depicted beside General Perón wearing a white evening dress designed by Fath.
Besides designing for his own fashion house, Jacques Fath also designed costumes for several films:
Entre onze heures et minuit (1948, directed by Henri Decoin)
Quai des orfèvres (1947, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot)
The Red Shoes (1948, costumes for Moira Shearer)
La minute de vérité (1952)
Genevieve (1953, costumes for Kay Kendall)
Abdullah the Great (1955)
Jacques Fath died of leukemia on 13 November 1954. Approximately 4,000 people attended his funeral at St. Pierre de Chaillot Church in Paris.
Jacques Fath was diagnosed with leukemia in 1952 and died two years later in 1954. His fashion house was operated in its last days by his widow Geneviève Fath, who presented her firstwell-regarded collection for the fashion house in 1955, but The Fath design house closed in 1957, and after the company's haute couture operations ceased, it went into business producing perfumes, gloves, hosiery, and other accessories.
Relaunched by the France Luxury Group in 1992, Jacques Fath was purchased and sold several times over the next decade.
In 2002, the firm became part of the Alliance Designers Group, but the company was sold again in 2006.
birth place: Rushville, USA
birth date: 16 April 1886
zodiac sign: aries
death place: Culver City, USA
death date: 7 April 1974
Profile of Edward Stevenson
Howard Greer was a Hollywood fashion designer and a costume designer in the Golden Age of American cinema, couturier for the privileged customers as well as fashion designer for mass markets.
Greer began his fashion career at Lucile in 1916, working in both her New York City and Chicago branches before serving in France in World War I. After the war, he remained in Europe, working for Lucille, Paul Poiret, and Molyneux, and designing for the theatre.
He returned to America in 1921, and through his theatre work was hired as chief designer for Famous Players-Lasky studios, which was later to emerge from several reorganizations and mergers as Paramount Pictures.
Greer left his post at Paramount and opened his own couture operation in Hollywood in December 1927, where he designed custom clothing for the stars until his retirement in 1962. He also continued to create costumes for films into the 1950s, and designed mass-market clothing.
His best known film work includes the Katharine Hepburn films Christopher Strong (1933) and Bringing Up Baby (1938), and the gowns for her 1940's film My Favorite Wife.
name: Charles James
original name: Charles Wilson Brega James
birth place: Surrey England
birth date: 18 July 1906
zodiac sign: cancerian
death place: New York USA
death date: 23 September 1978
Profile of Charles James
Charles Wilson Brega James (18 July 1906 – 23 September 1978) was an English-American fashion designer. He is best known for his ballgowns and highly structured aesthetic. James is one of the most influential fashion designers of the 20th century and continues to influence new generations of designers.
Charles James is one of less than a handful of American designers to have worked in the pure tradition of haute couture. He has been described as the greatest couturier of his time by some of the Parisian couturiers of his time. James was most famous for his unique ability to balance the intuition of an artist with the precise technical skill of an engineer.
Life of Charles James
Charles James' father was a British army officer and his mother came from a wealthy Chicago family. In 1919, he attended Harrow School where he met Evelyn Waugh, Francis Cyril Rose, and Cecil Beaton, with whom he formed a longstanding friendship. He was expelled from Harrow for a "sexual escapade".
After that, James briefly studied music at the University of Bordeaux in France before he went to Chicago to work. The utilities magnate Samuel Insull, a friend of the family, found him a position in the architectural design department where he acquired the mathematical skills that later enabled him to create his gowns.
At the age of nineteen, James opened his first milliner shop in Chicago, using the name of "Charles Boucheron", as his father forbade him to use that of James.
“It’s the air that’s sculpted, not the silk; it touches the body in only two or three variable places. The rest of the silhouette you can vary as much as you desire.”
In 1928, James left Chicago for Long Island with 70 cents, a Pierce Arrow, and a number of hats as his only possessions. He later opened a millinery shop above a garage in Murray Hill, Queens, New York, beginning his first dress designs. At the time, he presented himself as a "sartorial structural architect". By 1930, he had designed the spiral zipped dress and the taxi dress ("so easy to wear it could be slipped on in the backseat of a taxi").
From New York James moved to London, setting up shop in Mayfair. He designed the wedding dress for Baba Beaton, Cecil Beaton's sister, for her marriage in 1934. James created a modern interpretation of the white wedding dress, with a raised neckline and divided train. In 1936, he established the company Charles James (London) Ltd., using his own name officially for the first time.
James also spent time in Paris in the early 1930s, working from the Hôtel Lancaster.He showed his first collection in the French capital in 1937. That same year, he created a one-of-a-kind white satin quilted jacket described by Salvador Dalí as "the first soft sculpture" and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum collections.This jacket has been considered the starting point for "anoraks, space man and even fur jackets".In the 1930s, he also invented the Pavlovian waistband that expands after a meal.
Meanwhile, he licensed his fashion designs with American department stores such as Lord & Taylor and Bergdorf Goodman.
James moved permanently to New York in 1939 where he established Charles James, Inc. At the end of the Second World War, he designed a clothing line for Elizabeth Arden.
In 1947, James showed a collection in Paris.
In 1948, Millicent Rogers, one of Charles Jame's most loyal and important clients, organized an exhibition of the outfits he made for her at the Brooklyn Museum, entitled "A Decade of Design for Mrs Millicent H. Rogers by Charles James".
In the early 1950s, James spent most of his time in New York City at his Madison Avenue workshop. He won two Coty Awards, in 1950 and 1954, and one Neiman Marcus Award in 1953. That same year Charles James conceived the "Four-Leaf Clover" or "Abstract" ballgown for the journalist Austine Hearst. It was the dress James ranked as his best creation.This dress weighed no less than 12 pounds and had to be supported by a rigid structure.
In 1954, Charles James married Nancy Lee Gregory from Kansas, 20 years his junior. And in 1958 he retired.
In 1964, he moved to the Hotel Chelsea where he had three sixth-floor rooms for his work space, office, and apartment.
Charles James died in 1978 of bronchial pneumonia.
He is best known for his sculpted ball gowns made of lavish fabrics and to exacting tailoring standards, but is also remembered for his capes and coats, often trimmed with fur and embroidery.
Charles James inspired many fashion personalities, including Christian Dior, who said he was "the greatest talent of my generation". Dior credited James with inspiring The New Look
:In May 2014, concomitantly to the James retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum:Charles James, beyond Fashion, The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced it had signed a license agreement with James's heirs, Charles Jr. and Louise James, to produce new collections, and thus contribute to the brand revival. Two years of legal battle followed, opposing the heirs, who sought to file the brand to the name of their father, against the Luvanis company, which had already registered the brand in an array of jurisdictions worldwide.
In June 2016, TWC withdrew, Luvanis thereafter partnered with James' heirs to revive the Charles James brand. In September 2018, they revealed a new visual identity for Charles James, and put up for sale all the brands rights, which have been consolidated in the previous years
original name: Simone Micheline Bodin
birth place: Laval, France
birth date: 8 May 1925
death place: Paris France
death date: 2 March 2015
Occupation: Model, socialite
Profile of Betina Graziani
Simone Micheline Bodin (8 May 1925 – 2 March 2015), known professionally as Bettina or Bettina Graziani, was a French fashion model of the 1940s and 1950s and an early muse to the fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy. She was a designer of knitwear and, later, a poet and composer.
Life of Bettina Graziani
Born in Britanny and grew up in Normandy in North-West France, Simone Micheline Bodin
was from a humble family. Her father, a railway worker abandoned the family, and she was raised by her mother together with her elder sister. Simone Bodin learned drawing as a teenager and wanted to become fashion designer one day.
After the end of World War II, Simone Bodin went to Paris with her fashion sketches. There she met the young Parisian designer Jacques Costet hoping for a job, but Jacques took a look at her, put her into a green velvet dress and an haute couture model was born.
If one Jacques had decided her fate, another Jacques would make her immortal.
While working for Jacques Costet, Simone Bodin met Gilbert "Benno" Graziani (1922-2018), a French photographer and reporter, and one of the cofounders of Paris Match, it was love at first sight, she ran away from the designer studio and her career and went to live with Benno Graziani in the south of France. They got married in Paris in 1946. Simone Bodine became Simone Graziani, she was 21.
The marriage went sour the same year, however, and the fashion house of Jacques Costet was closed.
Simone Bodin then went to work for Lucien Lelong, but quickly got bored because of the strict ambience there, and applied job in Maison Jacques Fath who engaged her immediately and her salary multiplied 5 times. But what Jacques Fath gave her, was much more than a significant increase of income, he gave her a new name, a new identity.
Shortly after she joined Jacques Fath, he told her, "We already have a Simone; you look to me like a Bettina.", thus another Simone would disappear, and the Bettina would walk onto the stage and into history.
"Jacques Fath was a star. He was full of life, and he loved life. He loved everything that was 'glamour.'"
In the next four years, the new created Bettina became the muse of Fath, and she also worked with fashion magazines, posing for fashion houses of Madame Grès, Pierre Balmain, or Christian Dior.
Bettina´s photo wearing the New Look bar suit of Christian Dior is perhaps one of the most iconic fashion photoes in the history, but she represented the elegant and modern Parisian woman, younger than those created by Christian Dior or Pierre Balmain. In late 1940s she became one of the century's first supermodels, rivalled only by Barbara Goalen.
Around 1950, Bettina decided to leave Jacques Fath and dedicated herself to being magazine model. While travelling to the United States for Vogue photo shooting, Bettina joined Eileen Ford model agency. Not long after, she divorced Benno Graziani.
In 1952, When Hubert de Givenchy (who had worked as the assistant of Jacques Fath) launched his own fashion house in Paris, Bettina joined him, as his muse, model and directrice, organizing Givenchy´s first collection, asking her friends like Suzy Parker, Ivy Nicholson and Sophie Litvak, some of the most famous models of the time to walk the runway.
And Givenchy named one of designs of his first collection after her, naming a Byronesque white blouse "Bettina blouse", which would later inspire the design of the bottle for Givenchy´s best-selling perfume "Amarige".
Bettina stayed with Hubert de Givenchy for two years, devoting her time and energy to helping the aristocratic couturier, at times walking on runway as model and times working for the public relations of the fashion house.
But her life was going to change dramatically yet again. After the short marriage to Benno Graziani ended, Bettina became the companion of Peter Viertel, the American screenwriter who has written movies like The African Queen and The Sun Also Rises.
Then she met Prince Aly Khan, and gave up her modeling career overnight. She lived with him and later became his fiancée.
During her career, Bettina has appeared in almost all fashion magazines, on covers of some of them, including Elle français, L'Officiel de la mode, de l'Album du Figaro, Vogue français and American Vogue, with the only exception of Harper's Bazaar, the biggest rival of Vogue.
As a model, She worked with all the greatest fashion photographers at the time such as Henry Clarke, Horst P. Horst, Erwin Blumenfeld, Norman Parkinson, Irving Penn, Georges Dambier, Mark Shaw, Willy Maywald, Jean-Philippe Charbonnier and Gordon Parks.
In one of the photo sessions, she was photoed with Pablo Picasso wearing a blouse decorated by the artist.
In 1960, Bettina was traveling with Aly Khan when they suffered a car accident that took the life of the prince, Bettina survived but lost their child she was carrying.
After Aly Khan´s death, Bettina lived quieter life, she took some acting jobs, worked in public relations for some fashion houses like Valentino, and wrote poetry in her spare times, and wrote an autobiography, Bettina par Bettina in 1964.
Then in 1969, Coco Channel asked her to model for her new collection, and later she became attachée de presse of French desinger Emmanuel Ungaro in U.S.
In 1972, French writer Françoise Sagan wrote an article, L'éminence rousse for Vogue Paris, paying Bettina, paying her the ultimate tribute.
In 2010, Bettina Graziani was awarded Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres by French government.
In her later years, Bettina was closest to Franco-Tunisian designer Azzedine Alaïa who dressed her regularly, and to whose foundation she donnated her photograph collection.
In 2015, Bettina died in Paris at 89.