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Molly Sorkin

[Bocher, Main Rousseau]

(b Chicago, IL, Oct 24, 1890; d Munich, Dec 27, 1976).

American fashion designer and editor, active also in France (see fig.). For 50 years Mainbocher defined and promoted the elegance and exclusivity associated with haute couture. As an American working in the rarefied world of Paris fashion, his early careers as editor and couturier were groundbreaking. He later became New York’s most exclusive couturier, eschewing trends in favour of a timeless style that was treasured by the fashion élite.

Born Main Rousseau Bocher, he combined his first and last names into Mainbocher when he opened his couture house in Paris. As a young man he studied art in Chicago and New York and eventually moved to Europe. After military service during World War I, he settled in Paris. An unsuccessful attempt at becoming an opera singer led him to work full time in fashion and in 1921 he became an illustrator for Harper’s Bazaar. His friend, the Vogue...