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Lourdes Font

(b Paris, 1902; d Paris March 14, 1955).

French fashion designer (see figs 1 and 2 ). From 1925 to 1953, Rochas was an innovator in Paris fashion. In the1930s he was known for architectural suits and coats, bold graphic patterns and Surrealist details, and in the post-war period for romantic designs inspired by the 19th century.

Rochas founded his Paris couture house in 1925, and within two years copies of his modern and practical daywear were sold in New York City department stores. In 1929 he was among those leading the way toward a new silhouette by raising waistlines and lowering hemlines. In 1931 he was inspired, like Elsa Schiaparelli , by the South-east Asian architecture and Balinese dancers at the Exposition Coloniale in Paris. By the end of the year he had shown broader shoulders and fuller sleeves in his collections. He continued the South-east Asian theme with his ‘Angkor’ coat of 1934, which had peaked shoulders, sleeves forming sharp points at the elbow and a silver-plated belt shaped like a palm frond. Other designs had flanges at the neckline and shoulders that projected from the body like cantilevered walls (...

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Nele Bernheim

Surrealism was a 20th-century international intellectual movement centred in Paris. It was characterized by the belief in the creative powers of the subconscious mind. Initially manifested in literature, from the mid-1920s onwards Surrealism extended to the visual and decorative arts, and from then on Surrealism developed a mutual affinity with fashion. On the one hand, fashion was appropriated by Surrealists as a symbol of the ephemeral and of metamorphosis, and it provided artists with a powerful metaphor. On the other hand, Surrealism, with its disconcerting imagery, its displacement of conventional elements, its quest for convulsive beauty and its propensity to surprise and shock, was exploited by couturiers who had strong bonds with the avant-garde ( see fig. ). This interaction reached its apogee in Paris in the late 1930s.

As early as 1927, the Belgian couture house Norine appliquéd a Max(imilian) Ernst design onto a sports ensemble. That same year, ...