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Article

Christine Robinson

(b London, Sept 27, 1974).

British photographer of Ghanaian and Dominican descent. Perrier’s work primarily explores portraiture and its historical traditions in Africa. Her photographic projects address her own multicultural identity by questioning themes of diversity, cultural belonging, and identity.

Perrier graduated with a BA from the Surrey Institute of Art and Design in Farnham in 1996. That same year she travelled with her mother to Ghana for the first time and made Ghana, a series of documentary photographs of people, interiors, and details of life both foreign and familiar. In the series she depicted quiet moments such as a small arrangement of photographs and books in an otherwise empty corner of a room, and made individual and group portraits of family members she had just met. Upon her return she completed the series Red, Gold and Green (1995–7): photographs of her extended family members in their London homes. The photographs documented her relatives—all first, second, and third generations from Ghana—seated or standing before the Ghanaian national flag in their own chosen clothing, ranging from sequins to Kente cloth (...

Article

Clare Sauro

(b Italy, 1893; d Cannes, 1977).

French shoe designer of Italian birth. Perugia was celebrated for his luxurious and fashion forward footwear during the first half of the 20th century (see fig.). Perugia created custom-made shoes for individual clients as well as famed couture establishments such as Poiret and Schiaparelli. He was renowned for his extraordinary craftsmanship and innovative designs that were often influenced by modern art. Although his influence waned after the World War II, he is considered one of the great shoe designers of the 20th century.

Although Perugia was born in Italy, he was raised in Nice, in the south of France. His father was a cobbler by trade and Perugia was apprenticed to him at an early age. He mastered the craft quickly and soon found the traditional approach to shoemaking, which emphasized craftsmanship over innovation and aesthetics, limiting. In 1909, at the age of 16, he left his father’s establishment and opened his own shop. Before long, his elegant and unusual designs had developed a small following among the elegant women of Nice. With this patronage he was able to set up a small boutique in the fashionable Hôtel Negresco. Shrewdly, Perugia priced his shoes exorbitantly high and established his designs as status symbols among fashion’s élite. By ...

Article

Lourdes Font

(b Yverdon-les-Bains, May 6, 1898; d Lausanne, Feb 22, 1953).

French fashion designer of Swiss birth. Piguet presided over one of the leading couture houses in Paris in the 1930s and 1940s, although he is best remembered for hiring Christian Dior and launching his career in fashion. Piguet typically worked with at least one assistant who could translate his ideas into sketches (see fig.). He needed to collaborate with others in order to design, but he had highly original taste and he established a distinctive style that was by turns provocative and romantic.

Piguet was born to a family of Swiss bankers who reluctantly supported his choice of a career in fashion. At the age of 20, he opened his own couture house in Paris, but he was apparently not successful. By 1923, he was working for Paul Poiret and the following year he joined Redfern. In 1933 he opened his own house for the second time.

Throughout his career, Piguet’s designs were dominated by black (...

Article

Dora Pérez-Tibi

revised by Kristen E. Stewart

(b Paris, April 20, 1879; d Paris, April 28, 1944).

French costume designer, dress designer and painter. Despite paternal opposition to his precocious artistic gifts, Poiret attracted attention with his first fashion drawings for Mme Chéruit at the Maison Raudnitz, 21, Place Vendôme, Paris. From 1898 to 1900 he worked for Jacques(-Antoine) Doucet and distinguished himself by creating the famous costume ‘Aiglon’ (Fr.: ‘eaglet’; the nickname of Napoleon II; untraced) for Sarah Bernhardt. From 1901 he worked for the fashion house Worth, where he designed the Eastern-influenced cloak, ‘Confucius’ (1901–2; Paris, Mus. Mode & Cost.). Poiret opened his first fashion house in 1902 on the Rue Auber in Paris. There he produced innovative designs such as the kimono coat and the ‘Révérend’ (1905; Paris, Mus. Mode & Cost.) and enlarged his clientele of famous customers. In 1910 he opened new salons in a large 18th-century house, in the Avenue d’Antin, where he created his famous ‘hobble-skirted’ dresses, drawn in at the hem. Dubbed the ‘Prophet of Simplicity’ in a ...

Article

Anne van Loo

(b Brussels, Dec 9, 1873; d Brussels, Feb 9, 1980).

Belgian architect, teacher and designer. He was the son of a jeweller from Brussels and trained in precious metalwork at the Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts in Brussels before taking drawing courses at the Gewerbliche Fortbildungsschule (1890–91) and the Kunstgewerblicheschule, Munich. He began work as a goldsmith, later working with master ironworkers (1893–6) and builder–foundrymen (1897–8). In 1899 he became a draughtsman for the architect Adrien Delpy (d 1949) in Brussels, then until 1903 he worked in Georges Hobé’s decorative arts and cabinet work studio. In 1904 he went into partnership with the architect Adhémar Lenner; together they won a restricted competition (1908) for the Palace Hotel in Brussels, for which he also designed the furniture.

In 1910, at the age of 37, Pompe created his first individual work of architecture: Dr Van Neck’s orthopaedic clinic in Brussels, a rationalist building in which Pompe went beyond the previous limits of Art Nouveau. The building’s internal organization is expressed in its façade, notably by the use of glass blocks that illuminate the great gymnasium, and three projecting vertical ventilation shafts rest on the metal lintels of the ground-floor bays to emphasize their non-structural character. Of all 20th-century buildings in Belgium, this is probably the one that best expressed an original direction for architecture, in which craft and industry would find their respective places. In its form as much as in its innovative programme, this building was such a sensation that Pompe became a figurehead for the young modernist generation. However, his desire to combine technical rationality and constructional logic with a romantic, emotional expression always separated him from this group....

Article

Amy Widmayer

[Maria Bianchi]

(b Milan, May 10, 1949).

Italian fashion and accessory designer for the Prada and Miu Miu labels. Prada is considered one of the most influential tastemakers in the world, as well as one of the most powerful businesswomen in Europe. Her ability to create clothes that distill the essence of vintage styles, while at the same time being thoroughly modern, has earned her the reputation as one of fashion’s undisputed trendsetters. Often referred to as ‘the thinking woman’s designer’, Prada has long rejected the traditional ideals of beauty and—through her clothes—has built an empire based on what the New York Times referred to as ‘intellectualized dressing that became chic by being anti-chic’.

Prada’s paternal grandfather Mario Prada founded Fratelli Prada, a leather-goods company, opening his first shop in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan in 1913. The company, which specialized in oggetti di lusso, or luxury objects, became known for an expensive leather travel case fitted with crystal vessels. Before long, the name Prada had become synonymous with luxury and, within five years of opening his shop, Mario Prada was appointed by the Italian royal family to make valises, trunks and cases from leather, walrus, alligator and other exotic materials. As a tribute to the family’s legacy of luxury craftsmanship, the first shop is now the flagship Prada store—where such vintage items as ivory-handled walking sticks, tortoiseshell brushes and beauty cases made from elephant skins are proudly displayed as reminders of the company’s illustrious past....

Article

Cassandra Gero

(Marchese)

(b Naples, Nov 20, 1914; d Nov 29, 1992).

Italian fashion and textile designer. He is best known for brightly coloured printed silk jersey dresses, worn by a wealthy and sophisticated clientele during the 1960s and early 1970s (see fig.). Pucci’s groundbreaking casual yet elegant style embodied a sense of vitality and freedom.

Born into an aristocratic family, Emilio Pucci lived and worked in the Palazzo Pucci in Florence. Though his fashions would become symbolic of the 1960s, he did not set out to be a fashion designer. Pucci earned a Master of Arts in social science from Reed College in Portland, OR and a doctorate in political science from the University of Florence. He was also an avid sportsman and in 1933 and 1934 he was a member of the Italian Olympic ski team. Later, during World War II, he became an officer in the Italian Air Force, piloting fighter and bomber planes.

Pucci’s entrance into the fashion industry was a streamlined ski ensemble he designed for a female friend in Switzerland. ...

Article

M. B. Whitaker

(b Blackheath, London, Feb 11, 1934).

English fashion designer. A pioneer of the youth movement in fashion, Quant defined the mod look of the 1960s ( see fig. ). Her revolutionary designs include the miniskirt, hipster trousers, patterned tights and plastic raincoats, among numerous others.

Quant studied illustration and art education at Goldsmith’s College of Art, London, where she met her husband Alexander Plunket Greene. In 1954 Quant and Greene befriended Archie McNair, owner of the Chelsea hotspot and coffee bar, The Fantasy, on King’s Road. At that time, King’s Road was a centre for anti-establishment groups, in particular young people involved in art, music and fashion. Under Quant’s artistic direction, Greene and McNair each invested £5000 to open Bazaar, a boutique on King’s Road.

While high fashion at the time promoted tweed suits and evening gowns with pinched waists and full skirts, Quant wanted to capture the expression and feel of the youths loitering on King’s Road—the girls in short skirts and black stockings with the guys in skinny trousers and leather jackets. She could not find the kind of clothes she wanted to sell at Bazaar so in ...

Article

Cassandra Gero

[ Rabaneda y Cuervo, Francisco ]

(b Pasagés de San Pedro, Feb 18, 1934).

Spanish-born, Paris-based fashion designer. Along with Pierre Cardin and André Courrèges , Rabanne was considered one of the Futurists in Paris fashion in the mid-1960s who revolutionized and challenged the haute couture fashion. He experimented with new materials, making dresses from plastic discs and wire.

Rabanne was born in the Basque region of Spain. His mother had worked for Cristobal Balenciaga in the 1920s. Rabanne originally trained as an architect at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, but he admired the freedom that designing fashion allowed. In the 1950s, he began to design buttons, embroideries and fashion accessories for couture houses, eventually making jewellery for Christian Dior and metal belts and headpieces for Hubert de Givenchy .

Rabanne’s first fashion collection, entitled ‘12 Unwearable Dresses in Contemporary Materials’, premiered in Paris on 1 February 1966. The dresses were made from Rhodoid plastic discs held together by metal links. The models walked barefoot, since Rabanne could not afford to provide them with shoes. Critics in Paris, the centre of couture, were appalled by the show. However, the collection was received quite well by American journalists and buyers, and Rabanne quickly became a media darling in the United States....

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Amsterdam, May 12, 1963).

Dutch painter active in England. He first trained as a fashion designer, studying at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam (1985–90) and the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam (1993–4) before retraining as an artist at Goldsmiths’ College in London (1996–7). After serving an apprenticeship with radical designer Martin Margiela, he eventually came to unite his interest in textiles and paintings by making pictures which incorporate embroidery. Raedecker has said he was influenced by Winston Churchill’s essay ‘Painting as a Pastime’ to approach the medium as a sort of hobby, seeing the incorporation of embroidery as concording with this view. Many of his large canvases depict pristine Modernist interiors that seem to have become dirty with age, their clean forms and smooth planes upset by the addition of wools and threads that make the places depicted look worn and ragged. Reverb (1998; see 1999–2000 exh. cat., p. 9) offers a typical example: the view of a pale, grey, empty room, seemingly partially filled with a pool of water, offers an enticing glimpse of nature through a far window. Raedecker’s landscapes also seem melancholic and slightly comic, like darkened and impoverished versions of old Romantic subjects. Often, as in ...

Article

Kristen E. Stewart

(b Santo Domingo, Jul 22, 1932; d Kent, CT, Oct 20, 2014).

Dominican-born American fashion designer. De la Renta’s illustrious career spans nearly six decades and is part of the canon of American fashion design (see fig.). Known for flattering, highly wearable designs characterized by sophisticated femininity and romantic details, de la Renta made a name for himself both as a designer and as a man of style at the centre of prominent social circles.

Oscar de la Renta was born the youngest child and only boy in a family of six sisters, to a Dominican mother, Maria Fiallo, and a Puerto Rican father, Oscar Ortiz de la Renta. Raised under the matriarchal rule of his maternal grandmother, de la Renta’s childhood experiences in the lushly tropical community surrounded by grand and proper women in crisply starched ruffles shaped his perception of femininity as strength. The regalia of the Catholic Church and the aristocratic European glamour of an uncle’s Russian mistress supplied his romantic nature with an exotic aesthetic vocabulary....

Article

Mai Vu

(b Chatham, Kent, Sept 19, 1940).

English textile and fashion designer. Zandra Rhodes was born into a working-class family. Her mother, whom she considers to be one of her greatest influences, had worked as a fitter for the House of Worth and taught fashion at Medway College of Art (now University for the Creative Arts, Rochester). Rhodes attended Medway, where she realized her passion for textile design as well as its artistic and technical challenges. She went on to study textile design at the Royal College of Art in London. At the time, most serious designers were steered towards the creation of patterns for decorative arts and furnishings. Rhodes however, dedicated her skills to the traditionally less prestigious area of fabrics for dress and fashion; possibly an influence from her mother. She created patterns under the notion that they would be cut and sewn to form garments; they would not forever remain flat on the printing table as a painting would, but rather become a part of the body of the wearer....

Article

Marijke Küper

(Thomas)

(b Utrecht, June 24, 1888; d Utrecht, June 25, 1964).

Dutch architect and furniture designer. He started work in his father’s furniture workshop at the age of 12, and then from 1906 to 1911 he worked as a draughtsman for C. J. Begeer, a jeweller in Utrecht. During 1904–8 he took evening classes in drawing and the study of ornamentation at the Kunstindustrieel Onderwijs der Vereeniging of the Museum van Kunstnijverheid in Utrecht. His interests nevertheless extended further than the applied arts. Around 1906 he attended classes given by the architect P. J. C. Klaarhamer (1874–1954), a like-minded contemporary of H. P. Berlage. This contact with Klaarhamer, who at that time shared a studio with Bart van der Leck, was of great importance for Rietveld’s development, for it was through them that he learnt of recent national and international trends in architecture and the applied arts.

In 1917 Rietveld set up a furniture workshop in Utrecht; the following year ...

Article

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 (...

Article

Lourdes Font

[ Mathieu-Saint-Laurent, Yves Henri Donat ]

(b Oran, Algeria, Aug 1, 1936; d Paris, June 1, 2008).

French fashion designer ( see fig. ). In the late 20th century, few fashion designers could match Saint Laurent’s versatility, flawless sense of proportion and painterly gift for colour. From his six seasons as head designer at the house of Dior to his forty-year career at his own house, Saint Laurent safeguarded the standards of the Paris couture. Beginning in 1966, he and his partner Pierre Bergé also created an international network of ready-to-wear boutiques, launched fragrance, cosmetics and menswear subsidiaries and supervised the production of licensed products. The basis for Saint Laurent’s success was a talent nurtured by a deep knowledge of art and literature and a love for the theatre. He began his career as an innovator, able to synthesize the legacies of earlier couturiers while keeping a discerning eye on the contemporary street. In 1976, Saint Laurent demonstrated that, like Dior, he was capable of transforming the fashionable woman with a single collection. Having created a style of his own, Saint Laurent ended his career as the standard-bearer of French modern Classicism....

Article

Kirsta Willis

( di )

(b Florence, May 5, 1933; d New York, Aug 29, 1989).

American fashion and accessories designer of Italian birth ( see fig. ). Sant’ Angelo burst onto the fashion scene in the late 1960s with his brightly-coloured accessories, unconventional styling, cultural and historical references and a novel approach to dressing. Firmly believing stretch fabrics were the future, Sant’ Angelo eschewed zippers and exalted the female form through wrapping, draping and layering.

Sant’ Angelo’s formative years, spent on his grandparents’ Argentinean ranch, nurtured his appreciation of nature, music, colour and costume. His actual birth name is unknown, as he referred to himself on different occasions as Jorge Alberto Imperatrice and Count Giorgio Alberto Imperatrice di Sant’ Angelo. Consequently, details of his past are often unclear, but he evidently spent two years studying law at Sante Fe’s Universidad Nacional de Litoral before entering the architecture and industrial design programme at the Universidad de Buenos Aires. During this time, Sant’ Angelo was also enrolled in various private painting, sculpture, drawing and ceramic courses and success with the latter led to a six month scholarship studying art with ...

Article

Elizabeth Q. Bryan

(b Rome, Sept 10, 1890; d Paris, Nov 13, 1973)

Italian-born French fashion designer. Although Schiaparelli began her career with sportswear in the late 1920s, she is remembered for her Surrealism designs of the 1930s, often created in collaboration with such artists as Salvador Dalí, Jean Cocteau and Marcel Vertès. The drama of her original embroideries, vivid colours and strikingly witty accessories overshadows the simplicity of her sharply tailored suits and slender evening dresses (see fig. 1 and 2 ). Her ultimate success as a designer stemmed from her original sense of style and her instinctive attraction to the most avant-garde artistic circles.

Schiaparelli was born in Rome to a family of scholars and scientists and was educated in Switzerland and England. In London she fell in love in 1914 with the theosophist Wilhelm Wendt de Kerlor and married him without her family’s approval later that year. From 1914 to 1920 Schiaparelli and her husband led a precarious and bohemian existence, travelling from Britain to France to the United States. Along the way Schiaparelli met members of the international avant-garde, among them the Dadaist ...

Article

Jordana Moore Saggese

(b Baltimore, MD, Nov 15, 1948).

African American sculptor, jeweller, printmaker, installation artist, performance artist, and poet . Daughter of the renowned quiltmaker Elizabeth Talford Scott (b 1914), she received a BFA in art education from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, in 1970 and her MFA from Institute Allende in Mexico in 1971. She also studied at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, ME. As a visual and performance artist, Scott is most noted for works that engage with both politics and popular culture. The signature of Scott’s visual work is the application of beads, which she frequently used in her sculptures, installations, and jewellery. Her predilection for a material typically associated with craft, rather than fine arts, was inspired in part by the handicraft traditions of African and African American cultures. Such traditions were very familiar to Scott as her maternal grandfather was a basket-maker and a blacksmith and her paternal grandfather was a woodworker; her mother and grandmother both made quilts as well. The use of beads also connects Scott to a broader history of art. For example, one can see the influence of Yoruba beadwork in her creation of objects that are both beautiful and functional. The work also extends beyond Africa to include many other cultures and communities—Native American, Czech, Mexican, and Russian—which all have beading traditions. Scott’s manipulation of so-called women’s arts (i.e. quilting, sewing, and beadwork) connects her to a longer tradition of black feminist artists including Betye Saar and Howardena Pindell. Even with these connections to personal, cultural, and artistic histories, however, Scott’s materials are unique in that the sparkling and seductive surfaces they create are integral to the artist’s desire to shock and to surprise her viewers....

Article

Kevin Mulhearn

(b Cape Town, 1964).

South African installation and multimedia artist. Searle received her MA from the Michaelis School of Fine Art, Cape Town, in 1995. Her work has regularly addressed the complex politics of identity in South Africa and the deep and contested historical roots that inflect its contemporary manifestations. She has often used her own body in her work and dealt with themes connected in some way to her own complicated heritage, but she has typically produced work that also speaks to broader issues of both local and global import.

Much of Searle’s art has grappled with the history of South Africa’s ‘coloured’ people, a multiracial population that was the outcome of centuries of cohabitation between indigenes, Europeans, and imported slave labour. In her photographic series Colour Me (1998–2000), Searle covered her skin with such spices as clove and turmeric, allowing her to acknowledge the trade in these commodities, which prompted European settlement on the southern tip of Africa in the 17th century and brought slaves to the region from present-day Malaysia and Indonesia. The dual video projection ...

Article

Joyce Zemans

(Leonard)

(b Shoeburyness, Essex, Feb 4, 1909; d Vancouver, BC, Nov 22, 1998).

Canadian painter, draughtsman and writer of English birth. In 1912 his family emigrated to British Columbia. Educated at Victoria College, BC (1926–7), and the Provincial Normal School in Victoria (1929), he studied art at the Euston Road Art School, London (1937), the André Lhote School of Art, Paris (1938), and the Art Students’ League, New York (1948–9). From 1929 to 1937 he taught art to children in Vancouver and in 1938 joined the Vancouver School of Art, where he was head of painting and drawing from 1945 to 1966. In 1944–5 he served with the Canadian war artists. In 1955 he became the first instructor at the Emma Lake Workshop, Regina College, Sask. He also executed costume and poster designs for theatre and dance, as well as murals for Edmonton Airport, the National Arts Centre, Ottawa, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Vancouver....