Today was my day for running errands. My career path has created an interesting schedule for me. I don’t have a normal 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday type of work week. Often, I have bizarre days off – like a Tuesday. Teaching, freelancing, and writing have their perks in this way. When I need to accomplish personal errands, I don’t have to fight big crowds that the weekends often bring.
The day started off innocently enough. I worked on some projects from home while I had my morning coffee. Then, I prepared my to-do list and left the house around 11am. Tuesdays are usually for mundane activities. Really! I swear! My to-do list was the following:
- Drop some items off at a consignment store
- Buy groceries
- Post office
- Write a post
The thing about consignment stores is that I always end up browsing the racks while waiting. And then I saw this:
Those bright orange vinyl bows caught my attention. What a fun and interesting detail. “Well, it can’t hurt to look. I am just going to wait anyway . . .” I thought to myself. I went over to the rack and grabbed the hanger. My inner dialog of “I really shouldn’t be spending money on clothes. I need to buy groceries. It’s such a bright orange hue, anyway . . . I’m not sure if I could pull it off . . .” was immediately silenced when I saw the label.
AndrÃ© CourrÃ¨ges! How did my day suddenly go from groceries to this? AndrÃ© CourrÃ¨ges (b. 1923) is a French designer that contributed to the futuristic style of the late 1960s and early 1970s.
“Space age” designs were so iconic of this era. America and Russia were literally racing each other to land on the moon. Satellites and other technology were being developed rapidly. This shifted interest to the future. Could we colonize other planets? Would future generations live on space ships? How would styles change due to this environmental change?
Designers like AndrÃ© CourrÃ¨ges and Pierre Cardin tried to answer these questions in their clothing designs. Space age clothing had the following characteristics:
- use of hardware accessories
- durable, industrial materials
- androgynous, unisex styles
CourrÃ¨ges first studied as an architect. According to the Kyoto Costume Institute, he worked at Balenciaga before opening his own couture house in 1961. His couture collections always challenged cultural rules about fashion. For example, he was the first couture designer to present pants in a collection in 1963. He also presented the mini skirt in 1965. CourrÃ¨ges went on to design ready-to-wear in the late 1960s. This dress was from the ready-to-wear line. I wanted to photograph it on my mannequin, but the dress was too small. So I had to try it on. (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
The dress has some very minor flaws: the pull tab on the zipper is damaged, making it difficult to zip. The vinyl bow on the right side is attached with hook and eyes that need to be reinforced. All very easy to execute repairs.
Judging by the length, I’d say the dress is from the very early 1970s. Since the label has a style number 27051, I was able to discover some additional information. Kerry Taylor Auctions sold the same style in black in 2009. They dated the dress to circa 1970.
I must confess, if asked to choose between groceries or CourrÃ¨ges I would pick CourrÃ¨ges every time. But why choose when you can have both?