Christian Lacroix – an A-Z
Christian Lacroix couturier, fashion historian, carnation-lover and all-time hero of Edina from Absolutely Fabulous Embark on an alphabetical trip through his life in la mode…
words via Wonderland Magazine
A is for Arles
Christian Lacroix was born in the Southern French town in 1951, We were totally cut off from everywhere. Ancient traditions were still very alive: old ladies wore their buns tied up with lace and velvet ribbons.
B is for Bustles, Bows and Bullfighters
In 1987, Lacroix got the ultimate fashion accessory, his own couture house. The press reaction to the collection was incredibly exciting. But I was moved because my mother and all my friends from the South were there. They acted like they were in a bullfighting arena and shouted Hol! Hol! at the models, who were having so much fun to be gypsies and bullfighters!
C is for Carnations
Guests at a Lacroix show always find a carnation on their chair. I remember going to the market with my grandmother as a boy and seeing the endless stalls selling fish, bread, fruit and, everywhere, carnations…
D is for Daring
Asked what sort of woman wears a Lacroix gown, the couturier answers a daring one. My clothes are like costumes, he continues, helping people to play their own characters in a life that might be tough.
… and for David Lynch
One of Lacroixs favourite filmmakers. I love his way of mixing reality and sur-reality, he explains. I feel that my own dreams and nightmares belong to the same territory. And Twin Peaks… oh-la-la.
E is for the Eighties
Given that his own label has been described as the epitome of 80s excess, it comes as a surprise to learn that Lacroix was not so in love with the 80s in fashion terms. For me it was the era of Dynasty and Dallas, a decade of big spenders and new money, open-minded, but a little bit vulgar, he says.
Haute Couture Fall/Winter 1989
F is for Freelance
Lacroix is happy to be what he calls a mercenary for hire. Highlights of his non-couture CV include designing the stewardess uniforms for Air France in 2002; the interiors of a third generation of TGV trains in 2003; and rooms in several Parisian hotels including Le Petit Moulin. He is now working on designs for a new tramline in Montpellier.
Hotel du Petit Moulin, Paris
G is for Gypsies
The gypsies of Provene have held Lacroix in their thrall since he was a small boy, but as a designer he has had to struggle with their overweening influence. After the first collection people had it in mind that the House of Lacroix was the House of the Gypsies, the House of the South.
Couture Fall 2005
H is for Haute Couture
When Maison Lacroix became the first haute couture house to open in Paris since Gaultier in 1976, its director was hailed as fashions new Messiah. The international press went ballistic: Vive Lacroix! Theres been nothing like it in 25 years, proclaimed The Sunday Times.
Couture Fall 2001
…and for History
As a boy, he would spend hours poring over old fashion magazines in his grandparents attic: My grandmother was born at the end of the 19th century and she used to talk to me about her own grandmother who was born in the 18th century, whom she knew… so I always felt very connected to the past.
I is for Infamy
In the 90s, Jennifer Saunders made Lacroix the favourite designer of her comedy creation Edina Monsoon, Absolutely Fabulous ghastly fashion-victim heroine. I really enjoyed being caricatured through AbFab. Im not saying my fashion is vulgar, but it is not based on so-called good taste, and it is a bit loud for some people.
J is for Jean-Jacques Picart
It was PR giant Jean-Jacques Picart who made possible Lacroixs meteoric rise in French fashion. In 1987 Picart persuaded financiers to stump up the $88 million needed to begin Maison Lacroix. That was the beginning of Lacroix, insists Picart. It was like a shout.
K is for Knighthood
In 2002 the designer was awarded the Chevalier de la lgion dhonneur, the highest decoration in France. I was proud but I was feeling that it was a little bit undeserved, he confesses.
L and M are for Love and Marriage
He has been married to Franoise Roesensthiel since 1989. The pair met in Paris in 1973 when Lacroix was a student at the Sorbonne and Roesensthiel an assistant at Jean-Jacques Picarts PR agency.
N is for New Collection
The new collection is inspired by The Princesse de Clves, a French 18th century novel that I love. It has the feeling of Jean Cocteaus film La Belle et La Bte, but with short skirts.
Couture F/W 2002
O is for Oscar Wilde
I read that Wilde felt that Basil, the painter character, was his true self: modest, sensitive and shy; and that the cynical and hedonistic Lord Henry is who people thought Wilde was…I loved this because it reflected my own experience: people were always thinking I was somebody else, a bit more loud or more eccentric than I was.
P is for Le Pouf
The Lacroix puffball skirt or pouf was an instant fashion classic. I was alone in a hotel in Florence, cutting up some old fashion engravings from the 1880s with bustles, and I was playing around and I had the idea to cut the skirt like a mini-skirt and to put some modern legs underneath.
Lacroix designed the skirt nicknamed 'Le pouf' in 1985
Q is for Quotation
Lacroix has two mottos. Jean Cocteau: What the public criticises in you, cultivate. It is you. And Nietzsche: One must still have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star.
R is for Ready-To-Wear
It was a relief to be free of LVMH and it was a good opportunity for me to learn to fight, he says. What we are trying to build now is to stay credible in the luxury field. To do that we have to be even more exclusive.
Left: Ready-to-wear Spring 2003, Right: Ready-to-wear Fall 2008
S is for Sketching
I sketch every day. He doesnt carry around a notebook, preferring instead to scribble with biro, felt-tip or ink on the back of scrap-paper: I am a bordel [a mess], he laughs.
T is for the Theatre
As a child I lived by proxy through movies, literature, theatre. So my real life was when the curtain was up, when the lights were down. Escapism is one of my favourite English words. And nowadays the dreams of the child I was take form in my job, which is not only couture, but theatre costume design. I do one production a year.
Lacroix dressed dancers for the Theatre de Suresnes, 2009
U is for Ups and Downs
Black Monday, the biggest stockmarket crash in history, happened just nine days before Lacroixs New York debut in October 1987. Everything became minimal, he recalls. Just a few months later, even the richest women I knew whod all worn big poufs and big jewels and big hairdos were in menswear with black glasses.
V is for the Virgin Mary
Lacroixs mother wanted him to be a priest.: I hate anything connected with the Pope, I think its terrible his attitude to sex and AIDS. But I love to be in churches and in the South we have a deep love for the Virgin Mary. People talk to her as if she were a real woman: Youre a bitch, I prayed to you but you didnt do anything for me…
Christian Lacroix final collection - Couture Fall 2009
See the full show (here)
W is for Wedding Dress
Each Lacroix show ends with a bride: A wedding dress epitomises every womans dream of being centre stage; as though it were the theatre or ballet.
X is for XCLX
My name doesnt belong to me I was so embarrassed, he laughs. When the time came to add my signature to the contract, I hadnt thought what to call the company. My lawyer had XLX as shorthand for my name on the front of his case file, so we went for a variation on that!
Y is for Yves Saint Laurent
He influenced us all. The first time I saw his face and his work was on the cover of Paris-Match in 1958. I was seven years old and even at that age I could see these girls were not the usual French elegant woman. This very tiny, thin guy became such an important old man: he helped French fashion to enter modernity. And he was so, so nice. I loved his voice, his culture… the mass was very emotional. I never loved him as deeply as I did during his funeral.
Z is for Zeitgeist
Do you think you are in tune with the spirit of the age? I love discovering anything brand new; I love to feel the breeze of the moment… I strongly believe that both past and future coexist in the present.