Looking through fashion periodicals and books is exhilarating. Finding that perfect accessory or dress is a magic moment. You see it, you read the text. You have to have it. Now, you are on a mission to make it yours. After a little internet research, you make a phone call. Maybe you call a friend to tell them about your newly coveted item. Perhaps you are researching something for a major presentation. Or you could just be calling Neiman Marcus to place an order. But the inevitable moment happens. Your elation turns to panic. How do you pronounce the designer? Fumbling, your confidence goes down.
“Do I sound like a complete idiot?”; you think to yourself.
Guess what! You are not alone. I came across a book that had a pronunciation guide and wondered:
“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE? YOU COULD HAVE SAVED ME FROM A MILLION EMBARRASSING MOMENTS!!“
The next few posts will be dedicated on how to pronounce those beautiful, and tricky, French designer names. Also included are brief snippets about the designers/design houses to help you feel polished and confident when talking about your latest fashion obsession.
Gerard Albouy (1912 1985) often known by the name Ouy, was a French milliner . Between 1938 and 1964 he operated a Parisian hat shop called Albouy that was known for its decorative baroque-style hats.
Albouy design by Pierre Simon, 1945. Image Courtesy of HP Prints.
Albouy sketch by Pierre Simon, 1945. Image courtesy of HP Prints.
Albouy Hat, 1949. Image courtesy of HP Prints.
Fashion house, established by Cristobal Balenciaga (1895-1972). Balenciaga was Spanish, and opened up several ateliers in Madrid, San Sebastian, and the Basque region (c.1919) before moving on to Paris in 1937. The move was prompted by the Spanish Civil War. Balenciaga created immaculately constructed clothing that was as feminine as it was avant-guard.
Evening Dress by Balenciaga, 1954. Image courtesy of V&A.
Currently, there is a Balenciaga retrospective at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. A must see! Click here for details: Balenciaga and Spain
Nicolas GhesquiÃ¨re (guess-key-AIR) is the current designer for Balenciaga. He has been the lead designer since 1997. GhesquiÃ¨re enjoys referencing the legacy of the house by visiting the archives frequently.
Original 1967 Balenciaga Design (left) and Ghesquiere’s Contemporary Rendition (right)
Fashion house created by Pierre Balmain (1914-1982). Balmain trained with couturiers (coo-tour-e-yay) Molyneux and Lelong before going solo in 1945. During WWII, Balmain was noted for his long, bell-shaped skirts. He continued to make elegant evening clothes.
Balmain at WorkEvening Dress, detail, by Pierre Balmain. 1946.
Evening Dress by Pierre Balmain. 1957
Evening dress by Pierre Balmain, 1957. Image courtesy of V&A.
Christophe Decarnin (1964) was the chief designer for Balmain until this this month. Decarnin announced his departure from Balmain on April 6, 2011. Stay tuned to hear who is next . . .
Balmain illustration by Rene Gruau, 1946.
Established by Marie-Louise Bruyere in 1928. Bruyere worked at Callot Soeurs (Kah-low SOOR) and Lanvin (Lawn- VAN) before opening her own salon on the Place Vendome (plas van-DOM).
Bruyere created haute couture (oat koo-toor) collections until the 1950s, after which the label switched to ready-to-wear.
Bruyere. Illustration by Andre Delfau, 1947.
Bruyere. Illustration by Rene Gruau, 1945.
Callot Soeurs (Kah-low SOOR)
Couture house from 1895-1937, launched by 4 sisters. Hallmarks of garments produced by Callot Soeurs are lace, embroideries, and delicate handwork. The sisters were Japanese enthusiasts, and often incorporated oriental motifs and themes into their collections.
Callot Soeurs. Wedding Dress, 1916.
Comtess de Zogheb in Callot Soeurs, 1923.
Callot Soeurs, 1938.
Jean Desses (zhawn dess-SEZ)
Jean Desses (1906-1970) was Greek (real name was Jean Dimitre Verginie). He studied law before turning to fashion design in the 1930s. In 1936, he founded his own salon. Desses created gowns for European royalty and wealthy clients. He was fascinated with draping, and often made gowns that referenced classical Greek sculptures. He also favored an architectural silhouette for his garments.
Jean Dessès Evening Gown. Illustration by Pierre Mourgue, 1949.
Jean Desses Evening Gown, 1953.
Evening Dress by Jean Desses, 1951.
Enjoy the illustrations from this post? Please visit HPrints.com to see more and order some for yourself!