Hervé Léger, who has died age-old 60, was the French clothier who created the cast dress – hailed as one of the iconic dresses of all time, it fabricated its way from catwalks to the aerial street.
Made for women with “with a bosom, a waist and curves”, the dress became a hit with the “body conscious” Hollywood jet set of the 1990s and noughties and brought a new attractiveness to the catwalk, embodied by Cindy Crawford, additional a deluge of actresses.
Liz Hurley was additionally one of the aboriginal adopters of the dress.
With success, Léger bare to aggrandize his business into ready-to-wear in adjustment to attempt in the 1990s. Financial abetment came from the Canadian drinks amassed Seagram. Initially, all seemed able-bodied with Léger bearing 8,000 pieces a season, as adjoin 160 two years earlier. However, with added and added advance forthcoming, Léger’s captivation beneath until Seagram endemic 95 per cent of the business.
To his consternation, it afresh awash the aggregation to LA-based Max Azria’s BCBG. Within a year he and Azria had collapsed out. Léger begin himself accursed from his own characterization and absent the rights to the Léger name.
Born in 1957, in the baby boondocks of Bapaume, 20 afar south of Arras, arctic France, Hervé Peugnet larboard home at 18 and headed to Paris to abstraction carve and art history at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. After aloof a year, however, he alone out, after recalling, “It was the Seventies, and anybody was on strike”.
Wanting a job that fabricated use of his easily and his concern about the backdrop all types of fibres, he boarded aloft a hairdressing apprenticeship – finer training with a difficult fibre. Soon he was alive backstage at appearance shows for houses such as Chloé and YSL. He was accomplished himself to accomplish hats and dresses, and anchored arrangement assignment for Lanvin, Swarovski and apparel artist Tan Giudicelli.
It was a affair at a Chloé banquet affair in 1980, with German clothier Karl Lagerfeld, however, which was to change his administration and his life. “The Kaiser” capital a new abettor and asked to see Peugnet’s sketches. Although beneath than impressed, Lagerfeld took him on. The brace assignment calm at Fendi in Rome and afresh aback at Chanel in Paris.
Four years later, Peugnet was accessible to set up his own business. On the admonition of Lagerfeld, claiming it was too difficult for Anglophones to pronounce, Peugnet afflicted his name to Léger, taken from the French chat “légèreté” – lightness.
The characterization Hervé Léger launched in 1985 and, by the backward 1980s, the cast dress had arrived, which appealed because of its binding and adeptness to authority the amount positively, in and up – this accustomed complete poses for the cameras. His aboriginal abounding accumulating in this appearance was apparent in 1991.
The birth of “the cast dress was a simple one,” he already recalled. “One day in a factory, I begin some bands that were headed for the garbage. As a hat maker, they gave me the abstraction of demography those bands and putting them abutting to one addition as one does authoritative a hat, application the adaptable backdrop of the actual (rather than draping) to accommodate its form.
He additionally advised alive swimwear and tights, too. In 1994 ballet apparel for Roland Petit’s aggregation at the Paris Opéra.
Following the accident of his label, Léger kept a lower contour until 2000, back he founded his own apart financed appearance abode with his sister Jocelyne: Hervé L Leroux. This new surname was afresh appropriate by his acquaintance and coach Lagerfeld. He had called Leroux on the base that Léger had already had red beard “and anybody will apperceive who you are.”
The apprentice business struggled financially, however, although Léger persisted, authoritative couture and swimwear for clandestine clients. Between 2004 and 2006, he formed as artistic administrator at Guy Laroche, bathrobe Hilary Swank in a memorable backless midnight-blue jersey gown, for the 2005 Oscars area she won best actress. He additionally formed for the high-end Austrian architect Wolford.
In 2007, Azria launched his adaptation of Léger’s cast dresses, beat by the brand of Kim Kardashian, which paradoxically aloft Leroux’s profile. He after started accepting new audience from all spheres of the celebrity world, including Cate Blanchett, Kylie Minogue, Jemima Khan, Naomi Watts, Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian.
His affection was still in apparel that clung to a changeable anatomy but he had amorphous to use altered techniques to mould the body, replacing band and console structures with draped cloth, alive in bendable viscose and cottony jerseys – an affected abandonment from the skin-tight contour of the cast dress. Dita Von Teese acclaimed Leroux was in the aforementioned classical chic as the abundant Parisian couturière Madame Grès, both accepting been aggressive by the abstracts depicted in Greek sculpture.
Leroux was admired for consistently managing to accentuate his clients’ positives and annihilate their negatives. He admired to see women confident, alike happy, and lamented the band of starvation amid modern-day models, declaring, “His draperies were absurd on covering hangers.”
In 2013, Leroux’s improvement was complete back the Fédération de la Haute Couture asked him to acknowledgment to the Paris collections as a guest, recognising his adapted abode as an original. Perhaps somewhat ironically, BCBG filed for defalcation in March of this year. Léger died of a burst aneurysm, and is survived by his sister.
Hervé Léger (née Hervé Peugnet), couturier, built-in 30 May 1957, died 4 October 2017