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Article

Amy Widmayer

(b Strasbourg, 1948).

French fashion designer. A daring, avant-garde designer, Mugler is best known for his futuristic, body-conscious and sexually charged collections, his theatrical catwalk shows and his popular fragrance, Angel. Born in the Alsace-Lorraine region of eastern France, as a child he studied at the Ecole supérieure des Arts décoratifs de Strasbourg and, at the age of 14, while still a student, joined the corps de ballet of the Opéra National du Rhin. Mugler’s experience as a dancer taught him about the importance of the body in relation to clothing, in particular the shoulders and legs.

In 1968, at the age of 20, Mugler moved to Paris, first taking a job as a window-dresser and shortly afterward as the assistant designer at Gudule, a trendy boutique on the Rue de Buci. Wanting to explore other opportunities, he moved to London the following year where he designed for André Peters and between 1970...

Article

John E. Bowlt

(Ignat’yevna)

(b Riga, June 19, 1889; d Moscow, Oct 6, 1953).

Russian sculptor and decorative artist of Latvian birth. From the mid-1900s until 1912 she attended various private art schools in Moscow, including that of Il’ya Mashkov, but her real training as a sculptor began in 1912, when she travelled to Paris. Until 1914 she took an active part in the artistic life of Paris, attending the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, taking lessons from Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, and making many acquaintances, among them Ossip Zadkine, Jacques Lipchitz, and also Lyubov’ Popova, with whom she travelled to Italy in 1914. After returning to Moscow following the outbreak of World War I, Mukhina worked for a time as scenographic assistant to Alexandra Exter in the Kamerny Theatre of Aleksandr Tairov (1885–1950) and also designed costumes independently for a number of plays, none of which was produced. Mukhina again joined forces with Exter in 1923, when both women worked on fabric and dress designs for the newly opened Atel’ye Mody (Atelier of Fashion) in Moscow; she also helped Exter with the costumes for the film ...

Article

Christine Robinson

[Ingrid Mwangi Robert Hutter]

(b Nairobi, 1975).

Kenyan and German performance artist, installation artist, photographer, and video artist. Mwangi’s work addresses notions of cultural difference, social conventions, racial categories, and national identity, primarily through an autobiographical lens. She has often utilized her body as a subject and engaged with questions related to her own African-European heritage. In 2005 Mwangi shifted from a mostly solo practice to a collaborative partnership with her husband, German artist Robert Hutter (b 1964). From that time, the pair has worked and exhibited exclusively under the name IngridMwangiRobertHutter. Together they have explored larger human experiences and universal issues of stereotypes, fear and negotiations between different cultures, genders, nationalities, and religions through multimedia works that have produced cross-cultural dialogues.

Mwangi was raised in Nairobi by a German mother and a Kenyan father. In 1990, as a teenager, she moved with her family to Germany and studied at the Hochschule der Bildenden Künste Saar in Saarbrücken from ...

Article

John Steen

[Jacob]

(b Winschoten, Nov 19, 1904; d The Hague, Jan 6, 1962).

Dutch painter. He studied at the Vrije Academie in Groningen (1929), where he had contact with members of De Ploeg (The Plough). He made a living as a painter–decorator, window-dresser and cartoonist. After travelling in Germany and Poland (1937–8), he moved to The Hague (1938), where he trained at the Academie voor Beeldende Kunsten (1939–44). His first exhibition took place in a private gallery, Les Beaux-Arts, The Hague, in March 1946. At that time his work comprised picturesque scenes in soft colours. He travelled to Paris and the south of France, where he began to appreciate the work of Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Georges Rouault and Vincent van Gogh. He produced his first abstract canvases from 1948. Initially he painted triangles and circles, but later, influenced by primitive and non-Western art, totems and signs. From 1950 he made spontaneous drawings, in which the influence of Corneille and Karel Appel is evident. He also designed tapestries and stained-glass windows. A retrospective of his work was held at the Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, in ...

Article

Peter Bermingham

(b Richmond, VA, Nov 10, 1827; d New York, March 31, 1912).

American painter and stained-glass designer. He grew up in Clarksville, TN, where his stepfather was a tailor and his mother a milliner. In 1846 his request to be accepted as Asher B. Durand’s pupil was turned down, but Newman managed three years later to exhibit in the American Art-Union in New York. In 1850 he studied with Thomas Couture in Paris for five months. On a second trip to Paris in 1854, he visited Jean-François Millet in Barbizon. He worked as a portrait painter and occasional teacher of drawing, before serving briefly as an artillery lieutenant in the Confederate Army. After the Civil War, he apparently remained in New York, apart from a trip to Barbizon in 1882 and to Paris in 1908.

Although in 1872–3 he advertised himself as a portrait painter in Nashville, TN, and in the 1870s worked briefly as a stained-glass designer, Newman was primarily a painter of small compositions with a few figures, usually with a well-known religious, literary, or secular theme. One of his favourite subjects was the Virgin and Child (e.g. ...

Article

Kirsta Willis

[Levinson, Norman David]

(b Noblesville, IN, April 20, 1900; d New York, Oct 25, 1972).

American fashion designer (see fig.). Norell is credited with combining the spirit of Paris couture with Seventh Avenue manufacturing. When World War II forced the American fashion industry to develop its own style, Norell rose to prominence with wholesale collections known for superb tailoring, timeless elegance and a respect for materials.

As a sickly child growing up in Indianapolis, Norman David Levinson spent his early years shopping with his brazenly stylish mother, poring through French fashion magazines and cultivating a passion for theatre. He chose artistry over academia and at the age of 19 he enrolled in the fashion illustration programme at Parsons School of Design in New York City. However, after one year—in which more time was spent in the theatre than in the classroom—his attention turned towards patternmaking at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute. While there, he won a $100 prize for a blouse design, a considerable sum for the early 1920s and the mark of a burgeoning career in fashion. However, Levinson felt he needed a flashier moniker and at a friend’s urging fabricated a more theatrical sounding surname. Neither predicted that the chosen pseudonym Norell would later epitomize couture-quality ready-to-wear....

Article

Jorge Luján-Muñoz

(b Guatemala City, March 4, 1951).

Guatemalan painter, sculptor and designer. He trained first as an architect from 1969 to 1972 at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura of the Universidad Complutense in Madrid. In 1972 he attended the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid, where he studied mural painting and ceramics. On his return to Guatemala in 1972 he continued his architectural studies at the Universidad de San Carlos in Guatemala City from 1973 to 1974 and also became interested in the ethnological study of the Indians of the country, especially in their textiles.

In his paintings Ordóñez combined acrylic paint, sometimes with textured surfaces or luminous varnishes, with superimpositions of fine lines, vivid colour and screenprinting. Executed in editions of 12, each with individual finishing touches, they portray such subjects as the natives of Guatemala and landscapes. He also made sculptures, especially in clay, designed clothing and served as consultant to the Museo Ixchel del Traje Indígena in Guatemala City....

Article

Jan Glier Reeder

(Marie Charlotte)

(b Paris, June 23, 1869; d Paris, 1936).

French fashion designer. Head designer and director of the House of Paquin, Jeanne Paquin was the first woman to gain international success and celebrity in the fashion business. Beautiful, chic, intelligent and charismatic, Mme Paquin, as she was always known, was widely admired by the French public not only for her creative talents but also for her physical and managerial attributes. Always attired in her own designs, she predated Coco Chanel as the first designer to be a fashion icon in her own right.

Born into humble circumstances, Jeanne Marie Charlotte Beckers was as a young girl employed at a local dressmaker’s shop. She subsequently became a seamstress at Maison Rouff, a distinguished Parisian firm. In February 1891 she married Isidore René Jacob, known as Paquin, a businessman, who had a month earlier opened a couture house at 3, Rue de la Paix, next door to the august House of Worth. Together they built a couture business whose worldwide scope and stylistic influence were unparalleled during the early years of the 20th century....

Article

Molly Sorkin

(b Normandy, 1880; d Paris, March 7, 1936).

French fashion designer. Patou’s designs captured the fashion essence of sophisticated, modern society in the 1920s and 1930s (see fig.). He created contemporary wardrobes for women’s active and social lives, dressing them for every occasion, and from the tennis court to the nightclub. His clientele was a cross-section of international socialites and entertainers including Lady Diana Cooper, Barbara Hutton and the Dolly Sisters. A consummate showman, he promoted his work through his own fast-living lifestyle and innovative marketing techniques.

Patou’s father owned a successful tannery and provided his family with a very comfortable lifestyle. Patou rejected a role in the family business to follow his interest in fashion and around 1907 began working with an uncle who was a furrier. He soon branched out on his own, with two attempts to establish tailoring and dressmaking businesses. By 1912 he established the Maison Parry in Paris. The success of this venture prompted him to turn it into a full-fledged couture house and in ...

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

Reviser 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

Nancy Deihl

The term ‘Post-modernism’ has application to a number of aspects of fashion from the last quarter of the 20th century into the 21st (see fig.). In practice, attitude and aesthetic, much recent fashion can be designated Post-modern, demonstrating links to prevailing styles in fine and decorative arts and architecture, and reflecting societal distrust of, or fatigue with, the precepts of modernism.

One manifestation of Post-modernism in fashion concerns the breakdown of established institutions and the genres of dress. Throughout the 1950s, a primary function of fashion was the creation and maintenance of statements of elegance that established, and consequently, reinforced standards of quality and exclusivity (such as French haute couture). High fashion was intended to address the institutions and demands of an upper-class lifestyle. Design direction was aimed at the top tier of society and was modified by the general population. Tendencies pointing fashion in another direction began as early as the 1960s as popular fashion responded to Pop art, an important conceptual and aesthetic influence on Post-modernism. The Pop art sensibility reached its zenith with dresses made of paper, literally embodying a ‘throwaway’ aesthetic. A focus on youth made the hierarchical fashion system, with the couture at the top, appear increasingly limited and irrelevant. ...

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 ...