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Article

Pamela Elizabeth Grimaud

(b Maisons-Laffitte, Sept 6, 1912; d Paris, Nov 13, 1954).

French fashion designer. Fath is considered one of the leading figures of post-war couture for his witty and youthful approach. Fath opened his house in 1937 and became an established success during World War II. After the war he emerged as a leading innovator, whose sharply cut and heavily structured designs rivalled those of Christian Dior. Fath’s career was cut short by his death in 1954 at the age of 42.

Fath was born into a family of creative individualists; his great-grandmother had been a noted dressmaker under the Second Empire and his grandfather René-Maurice Fath (1850–1922), a successful painter. Fath studied bookkeeping and business, eventually becoming a broker at the Paris Bourse while gaining the business acumen that would prove invaluable in his role as one of post-war couture’s leading designers.

Fath enrolled in classes at drama school, as well as pursuing evening courses in drawing and pattern-cutting. It was in this period that he met Geneviève Boucher, whom he would marry in ...

Article

Clare Sauro

(b Bonito, June 1898; d Fiumetto, Aug 7, 1960).

Italian shoe designer. Ferragamo created both custom-made shoes for an illustrious private clientele and mass-produced shoes for an international market. Along with André Perugia and Roger Vivier, he is considered one of the great masters of shoe design, renowned for a distinctive blend of theatricality and comfort (see fig.).

Ferragamo was born in Bonito, a small town near Naples. He found himself drawn to shoemaking at an early age but his parents objected to such a lowly ambition. However, after seeing his dedication and nascent skills, they eventually relented. After a brief apprenticeship he opened his own shop in Naples at the age of 14, where his designs were noticed for their unusual elegance.

In 1914 Ferragamo followed his older brothers to the United States where he hoped to study the mass production of shoes. After working briefly in a Boston factory, he joined his brothers in a shoe repair shop in Santa Barbara, CA, where he began producing hand-crafted shoes for a nearby film studio. Demand for his skills increased and he soon relocated to Hollywood where his designs were sought after by both the film studios and film stars such as Rudolph Valentino, Pola Negri and Mary Pickford. Department store buyers and fashionable women soon became his customers as well. Restless for the expansion of his thriving business, Ferragamo returned to Italy in ...

Article

Molly Sorkin

(b Philadelphia, PA, Sept 20, 1924).

American fashion designer. During a career that spanned the second half of the 20th century, Galanos occupied a unique place in American fashion. He embraced the art and craft of haute couture to create high-end ready-to-wear fashion characterized by luxury materials, impeccable construction and lavish embellishment. Pleating was a hallmark of the Galanos style as was elaborate embroidery. Though trained in New York and Paris, Galanos based his business in Los Angeles, away from the centres of high fashion, which allowed him the freedom to develop an enduring style that reflected his vision of modern elegance (see fig.).

In 1941 Galanos began his formal training at the Traphagen School of Fashion in New York but left without finishing his degree. After a stint at Hattie Carnegie he moved to Los Angeles where he had been offered a design position with a new company. He also met Jean Louis [Berthault] (...

Article

Amy Widmayer

[Galliano-Guillen, Juan Carlos Antonio]

(b Gibraltar, Nov 28, 1960).

British fashion designer, active also in France. Half renegade, half romantic, as a designer for Christian Dior, Galliano deftly captured Dior’s essence, creating excessively elegant garments for the modern, youthful woman unafraid of breaking fashion rules (see fig.). Known for his extravagant catwalk shows, over-the-top couture collections and knack for blending street- and high fashion, Galliano’s outrageous adaptations of iconic Dior silhouettes, master tailoring skills and penchant for theatrics, combined with a keen business sense, have earned him the distinction of being one of the most influential designers of his generation.

Born into a family of modest means in Gibraltar and raised in gritty south London, Galliano was educated at the prestigious Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, where he graduated with a first class honours degree in 1984. His final collection at Central Saint Martin’s, entitled ‘Les Incroyables’, was an irreverent nod to the tattered clothing of the French Revolutionaries, and showcased not only his flawless technical skill, but his astute attention to detail and his passion for historical research....

Article

Richard Riddell

English firm of goldsmiths and Jewellers. The firm was founded by George Wickes c. 1730 and taken over by Parker & Wakelin after his retirement in 1760. Robert Garrard (i) (1758–1818), who was not a working silversmith but had been made a freeman of the Grocers’ Company of London in 1780 and thereafter had been accountant to Parker & Wakelin, became a partner in the firm in 1792. The joint mark of Robert Garrard (i) and John Wakelin (fl 1776–1802) was entered in that year. Wakelin was appointed Goldsmith and Jeweller to George III in 1797, and, upon Wakelin’s death, Garrard assumed sole control of the prestigious London-based firm, entering his own mark (rg) that year.

Robert Garrard (ii) (1793–1881), who had also been made a freeman of the Grocers’ Company in 1816, and his two brothers, James (1795–1870) and ...

Article

Nancy Deihl

(b Arcueil, April 24, 1952).

French fashion designer (see figs 1 and 2). Since his début collection, Gaultier has repeatedly been called the enfant terrible of French fashion for his rejection of conventional distinctions between male and female dress, his controversial historical and global references, and an ongoing ironic evocation of the Paris of popular imagination.

Gaultier credited his early interest in fashion to the influence of his grandmother, an amateur hypnotist and fortuneteller with a colourful group of clients for whom Gaultier imagined dramatic outfits and hairstyles. His grandmother’s foundation garments were particularly important and inspired an obsession with corsets that became a recurring motif in his design career.

As a teenager, he designed fashion collections for his mother and grandmother and sent sketches to Pierre Cardin. On his 18th birthday, Gaultier was offered a job by Cardin, where he stayed for about one year. He then moved on to a short stint with the avant-garde designer Jacques Esterel (...

Article

Michael Spens

revised by Carla Tilghman

(b Toronto, Feb 28, 1929).

American architect, exhibition designer, furniture and jewlery designer, and teacher. He qualified at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, in 1954 and attended the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, in 1956–7. After working in various architectural practices, from 1962 he practised independently in Venice, Los Angeles establishing the firm of Frank O. Gehry and Associates, Inc of which he remains the Design Principal. His early work focused on the potential of small-scale works to provide a succinct metaphorical statement, as with various exhibition designs for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and his designs for the Joseph Magnin Stores at Costa Mesa and San Jose (both 1968), CA. In his early works he was interested more in the manipulation of architectural form than in technical innovation, and he was concerned with the conceptual and spatial content of buildings rather than the tighter demands of the architectural brief. Seeking an ‘open-ended’ approach to architecture, he was influenced by the work of fine artists such as Constantin Brancusi and Robert Rauschenberg. But his works of the late 1970s proved that his approach could provide habitable if haphazard buildings, as in the Wagner House (...

Article

Valerio Rivosecchi

(b Faenza, Aug 4, 1909; d Rome, April 5, 1981).

Italian painter, illustrator and stage designer. He began his training in Faenza in the workshop of the Italian painter and ceramicist Mario Ortolani (1901–55). After living briefly in Bologna (1927) and Paris (1928) he settled in Rome in 1929, first exhibiting his work at the Venice Biennale in the following year. His paintings at this time, such as Nude (Susanna after her Bath) (1929; Faenza, Pin. Com.), were characterized by an emphasis on tonal relationships and on the influence of the Scuola Romana. In 1934 he began to work with growing success as an illustrator for the journals Quadrivio and Italia letteraria. The contacts he established with Paris were intensified with his move there in 1947, resulting in three one-man shows at the Galerie Rive Gauche (in 1950, 1953 and 1957), and in his paintings he evolved a cautious balance between the representation and the disassembling of the image. Some of his best-known series of paintings date from this time, including his ...

Article

Cassandra Gero

[Rudolf]

(b Vienna, Aug 8, 1922; d Los Angeles, CA, April 20, 1985).

American fashion designer of Austrian birth. In the 1950s and 1960s, Rudi Gernreich was the leading avant-garde designer in the United States. His sportswear was an attempt to free women from the constraints of the fashions of the past, dominated by French couture. He continually proved to be ahead of his time, and the results were sometimes found to be shocking.

Gernreich’s father was a hosiery manufacturer and he learnt about clothing in his aunt’s couture salon in Vienna. He moved with his mother to Los Angeles in 1938 and in 1942 joined the Lester Horton Modern Dance Troupe as a dancer and costume designer. After six years he decided that he was not talented enough to be a dancer and began to focus on fashion. By 1951 he was working with a clothing manufacturer named William Bass, and by 1959 he was designing under his own name, as well as for Harmon Knitwear....

Article

(b Beauvais, Feb 20, 1927).

French fashion designer. Givenchy is considered by many to be the last of the traditional couturiers, yet he is best known for spare, impeccably modern designs and for his long association with the actress Audrey Hepburn.

The younger son of the Marquis Taffin de Givenchy, Hubert de Givenchy was born into a wealthy Protestant family. After seeing the Pavillon de l’Elégance at the Exposition Internationale in Paris in 1937, Givenchy decided to become a couturier. Although his family would have preferred him to have become a lawyer, they eventually acquiesced and in 1945 he began work for Jacques Fath and took courses at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. In 1946 he moved on to work for Robert Piguet. In 1947 he spent six months at the house of Lucien Lelong, where he briefly succeeded Christian Dior as head designer, before settling down to work with Elsa Schiaparelli for four years, taking charge of her boutique on the Place Vendôme....

Article

(b Rotterdam, Feb 4, 1936).

Dutch painter and photographer. From 1948 until 1950 he trained to be a lathe operator, working in this capacity until 1952. Between 1952 and 1960 he was a shop window-dresser. He attended evening classes in painting at the Akademie voor Beeldende Kunsten in Rotterdam from 1954 until 1959. In 1960 he made a mural for the Floriade flower show, Rotterdam. Also in 1960 he had his first group exhibition at Galerij Orez in The Hague and at the Rotterdamse Kunstkring. His work at this time was Abstract Expressionist. He started to travel: through the USA and Mexico in 1961, stayed the summer of 1962 in Paris and then made a journey through Asia, which ended in Tokyo, where he remained until the end of 1964. Here he was an actor in films, gave English lessons and learned the art of Zen.

Van Golden painted canvases with abstract patterns that originated from machine manufactured industrial products, particularly textile and packaging materials. In ...

Article

Josephine Withers

[Juli]

(b Barcelona, Sept 21, 1876; d Arceuil, March 27, 1942).

Spanish sculptor, metalworker, draughtsman and jeweller. As a sculptor he pioneered a technique of working directly with metal in the 1930s and is particularly known for his abstract forged and welded open-form constructions in iron, bronze and silver (see Head, c. 1935.)Although he incorporated both Surrealist and Constructivist elements in his work, González was independent of any movement. He made a significant contribution to the ‘truth to materials’ discourse of his time and was an important example for David Smith as well as Anthony Caro, Eduardo Chillida and other sculptors working with welded metal after World War II.

González and his brother Joan (1868–1908) received their initial sculptural training from their father Concordio González (1832–96), a sculptor and metalworker. In 1892 the brothers attended evening classes in drawing at the School of Fine Arts in Barcelona but it was in 1897, after frequenting Els Quatre Gats (the meeting-place for the most progressive artists in Barcelona), that Julio considered becoming a painter. In ...

Article

Ellen G. Landau

(b Allegheny, PA, May 11, 1894; d New York, NY, April 1, 1991).

American dancer and choreographer. Graham is widely considered a major pioneer and exponent of modernism. Her collaboration with American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who designed costumes and sets for the Martha Graham Dance Company from 1935 to 1966, and the extraordinary photographs of her in performance by Imogen Cunningham, Soichi Sunami (1885–1971), Philippe Halsman (1906–79) and especially Barbara Morgan, link Graham’s revolutionary accomplishments in dance to experimentation in the visual arts. During the late 1930s and 1940s, her belief in the ability of dance to tap the power of myth and the unconscious anticipated and was analogous to the tenets of Abstract Expressionism.

Brought up in California the daughter of a physician, in 1916 at age 22, Graham began studying dance under Ruth St Denis (1879–1968) and Ted Shawn (1891–1972). Ten years later she formed the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance in New York. While her own performances were initially based on the Denishawn style, by ...

Article

Melissa Marra

[Barton, Alix; [née Krebs, Germaine Emilie]

(b Paris, Nov 30, 1903; d Nov 24, 1993).

French fashion designer. Best known for her exquisitely sculpted and intricately pleated evening dresses, Mme Grès brought a sculptor’s eye to designing clothing (see fig.). Unique construction techniques and the combination of antiquity and modernity in her work, made her one of the most innovative fashion creators of the 20th century.

Born Germaine Emilie Krebs in the 17e arrondissement of Paris, Mme Grès enjoyed the privileges of a bourgeois upbringing, which included a solid education in music, dance and other fine arts. Early aspirations of becoming a sculptor were quickly discouraged by her family, and as a result Mme Grès turned to dressmaking to artistically express her appreciation of the human form. Her career in fashion began in 1930 with a three month apprenticeship at the couture house of Premet, where she learned sketching and draping.

Certain details of Mme Grès’s life remain unconfirmed. It has been suggested that in the early 1930s she took employment with the minor couture house of Julie Barton, which was located in an apartment at 8, Rue de Miromesnil. It was during this time that she renamed herself ‘Alix Barton’, her surname adopted from her employer. Alix Barton’s designs were among the most original and advanced in Parisian fashion at this time, leading Julie Barton to re-name the house after her employee, whom she eventually made a business partner. As a result, Grès’s earliest designs bore the label ‘Alix’....

Article

Halston  

Cassandra Gero

[Frowick, Roy Halston]

(b Des Moines, IA, April 23, 1932; d San Francisco, CA, March 26, 1990).

American milliner and fashion designer. In the early 1970s, Halston represented modernism in fashion design (see fig.). He was known for the high quality of his clothes as well as his celebrity clientele and chic lifestyle.

Halston grew up in Des Moines, IA, where, by age seven he had shown an interest in designing hats. (He once made his mother a red felt hat decorated with a gold pot-scrubber sponge.) Later, while attending the Chicago Art Institute, he worked as a window dresser for the Carson Pirie department store and at night created hats in his apartment. He peddled his wares at the Ambassador Hotel beauty salon and acquired a following that included the actresses Fran Allison, Gloria Swanson and Kim Novak. Halston became so well known that when famed milliner Lilly Daché came to Chicago, she offered him a job in her New York store. He worked for Daché from ...

Article

Elizabeth Q. Bryan

(b Ridgewood, NJ, Dec 16, 1903; d New York, Sep 6, 1971).

American fashion designer and author. Elizabeth Hawes combined interests in art, fashion and politics to make original contributions as a designer and to express strong opinions and promote radical concepts in such books as Fashion Is Spinach (1938) and It’s Still Spinach (1954). Her candor about her career as a copyist in Paris and her nine years as a couturier in New York, provides much insight into the complex relations between the haute couture and the American ready-to-wear industry.

Born in 1903 to a suffragette mother, Hawes had the education and social connections to pursue her career goals. Her interest in dressmaking led her to Paris in the summer of 1925 after graduation from Vassar College. Although she wanted to train as a designer, she could only secure a position as a sketch artist in a firm selling unauthorized drawings to buyers who were avoiding couturiers...

Article

Jean-François Pinchon

(b Neuville Saint-Vaast, Pas de Calais, April 25, 1842; d Paris, March 7, 1921).

French engineer. Born into a peasant family, he began his career as a stone-dresser, rising rapidly to site supervisor. He formed his own company in 1867 and became interested in reinforced concrete, which he studied for 12 years, during which time he carried out systematic experiments on combining iron and concrete. Unlike most inventors of systems of reinforced concrete, Hennebique aimed at a rigorous understanding of the behaviour of iron and concrete in a load-bearing beam. He observed that, under compression, concrete is preferable to iron, that it does not impede expansion and that its use offers a means to avoid shearing. Accurate deductions based on considerable practical knowledge of and experiments with the material enabled him to devise a system to calculate the correct position for the reinforcement within the concrete, first patented in 1892 when the scientific equipment for the study of concrete was extremely rudimentary.

Hennebique made his first slabs reinforced with iron rods in ...

Article

Rebecca Arnold

[née Pacanins y Nino, Maria Carolina Josefina]

(b Caracas, Jan 8, 1939).

Venezuelan fashion designer, active also in the USA (see fig.). While Herrera’s designs always contain elements of current fashion, her work is more about the cultivation of a sleek international style that is classically feminine. Her upbringing among the élite, leisured classes of South America encouraged her to view clothing as a visual expression of good taste and ease. Rather than following trends, her designs tend to favor clean lines, with a focus on detail.

Herrera was brought up in an environment where clothes were bought from Parisian couturiers, such as Cristobal Balenciaga, or made by skilled local dressmakers. In each case, craftsmanship and structure were important, combined with a desire to acknowledge wealthy women’s lifestyles within the design of each garment. Herrera therefore developed an appreciation for refined design skills and good fit early in her life, which was to prove crucial to her own evolution as a designer. Combined with this awareness of fashion’s central role in the life of wealthy women was her cosmopolitan outlook. This was nurtured by regular trips to Europe and North America, which provided inspiration through visits to galleries and museums, and gave her an understanding of the international lifestyle of many women of her class. The need of these women to be dressed stylishly and appropriately for diverse events from tennis matches to cocktail parties or office work in a city shaped Herrera’s outlook, as much as her appreciation of art and culture....

Article

David M. Sokol

(b Russian Poland, April 10, 1872; d New York, July 26, 1946).

American painter of Russian-Polish origin. He claimed to have carved wooden ceremonial objects as a young boy, but ceased to create until he retired from his clothing manufacturing concern and began to paint. When Sidney Janis was arranging an exhibition of American folk art for the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York, in 1939, he saw Hirshfield’s naive works in a gallery in New York. He exhibited two in the show and organized a one-man show for the artist in 1943; he also purchased two works, including Beach Girl (1937; New York, MOMA). In such paintings Hirshfield based large areas of the overall design on the fabrics with which he worked during his years in business, and his outlined forms on the art of patternmaking. In this and slightly later works, such as Inseparable Friends (1941; New York, MOMA), an ambiguous treatment of young female sexuality is played off against the patterns and the repetition of forms....

Article

Pauline Antrobus

(b Lima, 1889; d Lima, 1970).

Peruvian designer, painter and teacher. She taught drawing in local schools before entering the Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes in Lima in 1919. Inspired by Peru’s indigenous heritage and the love of her country, Izcue often depicted Indian and Inca themes in her paintings (e.g. Untitled, 1924; Lima, Palacio de Gobierno). With her twin sister Victoria, she created the ‘Incaic decorative art’ style of interior design in the early 1920s. She illustrated the children’s book Manco Capac: Leyenda nacional (1923) at the request of Rafael Larco Herrera. He covered the publication costs of Izcue’s El arte peruano en la escuela (Paris, 1926), which showed children how indigenous motifs could be used to decorate various handicrafts. After graduating in 1926, Izcue received a grant to travel to Paris, where she attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and studied with Fernand Léger and Marcel Gromaire. To finance living in Paris, she produced Peruvian-influenced fashion accessories, and in ...