Courrèges is a French fashion house founded in 1961 by homonymous André, revolutionary and bold fashion designer.

The beginning

André Courrèges 1965
André Courrèges, 1965.

The maison Courrèges was born by the genius of the homonymous fashion designer André. Born in 1923 in Pau, the young Courrèges became civil engineer, but he preferred fashion to design: he probably designed fashion with set square and compass, discovering a geometric and short silhouette. He practices fashion ten years in the atelier of Balenciaga, where he arrived in 1949 and from which he learnt the art of the cut, precise and linear. In the atelier he met Coqueline Barrière, his muse and future wife, who he decided to found the Maison Courrèges with, becoming one of the iconic fashion designers of 1960s and 1970s.

André Courrèges
André Courrèges in his studio.

The success of Courrèges

His minimal chic style was a big success: the essence of elegance contained in trapezoid-shaped dresses, with skirts over the knees. He brought forward the miniskirts, whose authorship is challenged with Mary Quant. His straight and rapid lines revolutionized the feminine silhouette, leaving the squeezed waist. His fuseaux resembled a second skin and his vinyl and PVC dresses with porthole became the emblem of that feverish society which aspired to changement. His fantasies adapted and were inspired by stripes and squares from Optical Art: there was no reference to his past in Balenciaga. On the contrary, he was inspired by future, as though Cardin and Rabanne: his astronauts took off before man conquered the moon.

Andrè Courreges collection 1968_969

In 1964, the Moon Girl Collection became famous: it threw fashion in a robotic and space future. It marked the evolution of taste, in a triumph of white and silver, and the birth of Go-Go Boots, the white calf ankle boots. The next year, in 1965, which Vogue British defined “the year of Courrèges”, the lunette eskimo, iconic white plastic sunglasses with a split in enormous lenses, were born. In 1970s his success was consolidated: he designed the uniforms for Monaco Olympic Games of 1972 and created his first menswear collection. Furthermore, he created a complicated system of licences, which made possible to produce sunglasses, umbrellas, jewels, shirts, furniture, kidswear and perfumes.

André Courréges, photo by Bert Stern.

In 1984 he moved to Tokyo, where he remained ten years and he signed an agreement with Itokin group. After many disputes, in 1986 he left the control of couture line, probably due to a missed delivery, but he got it again in 1993, when he called Jean-Charles de Castelbajac as fashion designer.

The heritage of Courrèges

Andrè Courrèges, father of the space age style, became symbol of the Swinging London years, because of his vinyl dresses, his acid miniskirts, his optical patterns, his helmets and his plastic accessories. He left fashion in 1994 and he died on 7th January 2016. He was visionary and revolutionary and he suddenly winked at comfort:

In life you walk, you run, you drive and you take the plane. Clothes must be able to move.

Courrèges 1967, photo by Bert Stern
Courrèges 1967, photo by Bert Stern.

The maison today

After the founder left, the maison changed many owners and Creative Directors. Nowadays the brand is owned by Artemis, the holding of Pinault family, which already in 2015 purchased the 40 % of stock actions. In 2018 they decided to purchase the remaining 60 % from Jacques Bungert and Frédéric Torloting, ex directors at Young & Rubicam, which acquired the brand from founders in 2011.

Courrèges FW 21
Courrèges, AW 2021.

The Creative Director changed in the years. In 2016 Sebastian Meyer and Arnald Valiant guided the griffe in its first attempt of rebirth after its founder left; the experience finished in 2018, when Yolanda Zobel arrived: she remained until 2020. Nowadays the designer of the historical maison is Nicolas de Felice, historical assistant to Nicolas Ghesquière who also worked in Dior with Raf Simons: his task is bring again among the bigs a brand which was fundamental in the history of fashion.

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