BEFORE COURREGES: ARCHITECT, FRENCH AIR FORCE PILOT, AND DEPUTY OF BALENCIAGA

According to Courreges, his willing to become a fashion designer derived from his childhood. He would always notice how his friends dress up, and often would not approve their choices.

By Victor Sajenko

BEFORE COURREGES: ARCHITECT, FRENCH AIR FORCE PILOT, AND DEPUTY OF BALENCIAGA

Born in 1923 in Pau (Nouvelle-Aquitaine), from an early age, Andre Courreges was sketching clothes, however his father, a butler on the estate, did not approve Andre's hobby, he wanted his son to become an engineer.

According to Courreges, his willing to become a fashion designer derived from his childhood. He would always notice how his friends dress up, and often would not approve their choices. Future designer's appeal to the world of fashion can also be explained by the fact of spending his early years in the South of France, where many elegantly dressed representatives of the French and foreign elites could be seen.

However, at the insistence of his father, Andre Courreges still enrolled at the prestigious National School of Bridges and Roads, where he was educated as an architect. For some time he worked as a bridge engineer, and at the age of twenty-three he moved to Paris.

During World War II, Courreges served as a pilot for the French Air Force.

After the war, Andre Courreges started the school at the High Fashion Syndicate (fr. École de la chambre syndicale de la couture parisienne) and got a job as a draftsman at Jeanne Lafaurie fashion house, where he worked for about six months. However, he didn’t like it there, since he came to the conclusion that the company had a poor organization of the production process, after which he began to look for a new job.

In this regard, Courreges visited many Parisian couturiers, and came to a conclusion that the best one was Cristobal Balenciaga. According to Courreges, Balenciaga was “the most accomplished and classy” at that time in Paris. In 1949, Courreges has been recruited as an assistant by the Balenciaga fashion house, where he worked until 1961. Later, he recalled this period of his life and relations with Balenciaga as follows: “I literally got imposed on him for work, despite the fact that they did not need anyone. He took me as an ordinary apprentice. Then I became his right hand, worked for ten years and then opened my own company.”

designer andre courreges at the door of his fashion house
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