André Courrèges was originally torn between a career as an architect or one as a structural engineer; only later did he decide to pursue fashion, taking a job at Balenciaga as a cutter. When Courrèges struck out to form his own label in 1961, he took with him all the instinct for silhouette gleaned from his former training.
The Courrèges brand became known for its outré take on mod staples like minidresses, trouser suits, and flat boots — often with a futuristic bent. If Courrèges' simple, graphic lines and clean, white palette with flashes of silver didn't automatically call to mind the interior of a 2001-esque spaceship, then surely the designer's famed 1964 Space Age collection (featuring cosmonaut-inspired helmet hats) drove the point home.
Once everyday folks no longer wanted to dress like extras from Barbarella, the label's heydey was over. André Courrèges retired from his company in 1994, and in 2011, his wife sold the name to former ad execs Frédéric Torloting and Jacques Bungert, who are dedicated to making their new property a household name again. The pair's first focus was reviving the iconic Courrèges fragrances, including a relaunch of 1969's Empreinte — French for "Footprint," thus named for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's giant, lunar leap for mankind.
Torloting and Bungert also have their sights set on making Courrèges a fashion destination again. The Cut reports that a flagship store opened last year in Paris, and the brand plans to open 10 more stores worldwide over the next three years. Meanwhile, the brand's e-comm site sells a ready-to-wear collection featuring a decidedly de-camped aesthetic vision. Colors are still punchy, hemlines are still short and often A-line, but it all feels much more wearable (dare we say...basic?) than Courrèges' kooky heydey. Some new designs are reminiscent of A.P.C. — vaguely French and certainly '60s-inspired, without being slavishly referential to the past.
Still, with mod and space-age style now so thoroughly absorbed into fashion's design lexicon that we can count on a full-scale runway revival every few seasons, can Courrèges capture our imagination again? The clothes, currently designed by committee, lack the forward-thinking spark of the '60s designs. If owners Torloting and Bungert are truly dedicated to a revival, they may do well to find themselves another oddball genius like André to sit at the helm. (The Cut)