Today is the 101st birthday of the fashion designer Guy Laroche. You will know him as the maker of Drakkar Noir cologne. If you are of a certain age, you just had a flashback of that ad with Stephanie Seymour and John Pearson. Also, you need to watch the commercial at the bottom of this post, it’s from 1984 and has Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh in it. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.
NAME: Guy Laroche
DATE OF BIRTH: July 16, 1921
PLACE OF BIRTH: La Rochelle, France
DATE OF DEATH: February 17, 1989
PLACE OF DEATH: Paris, France
CAUSE OF DEATH: Colon Cancer
BEST KNOWN FOR: Guy Laroche was a French fashion designer and founder of the eponymous company.
Laroche was born in La Rochelle, and began his career in millinery. From 1949, Laroche worked for Jean Dessès, eventually becoming his assistant. In 1955, he visited the U.S. to investigate new ready-to-wear manufacturing methods. 1956 or 1957, he founded a high-fashion atelier at 37 Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, Paris.
In his first collection that was favorably received, he reintroduced vibrant colors such as pink, orange, coral, topaz, and turquoise. His clothes also featured plunging neck and back lines. Traditional elegant color combinations remained a staple in his designs as well.
Known as being humble and gracious—as opposed to the haughty nature of most Parisian designers—he designed haute-couture, but practical clothing for women. For the American market, he was one of the first to create separates. An example, a jacket to a three-piece woolen suit of black and several shades of blue is shown in the adjacent image. Along with the excellent workmanship throughout the garment, the exact matching of the pattern on the front, back, sleeves, and pockets marks the high quality, haute-couture, of the distinctive garment, although it was designed for practical use. The rest of the suit is solid black, a skirt of the same material and a silk blouse.
In 1961, he moved to larger quarters, a townhouse at 29 avenue Montaigne, Paris; opened a boutique there; and introduced his first ready-to-wear collection.
In 1966, Laroche introduced Fidji, his first women’s fragrance; designed men’s ready-to-wear; and opened the Guy Laroche Monsieur boutique. He created other fragrances, such as:
1977 J’ai Osé
1982 Drakkar Noir
1999 Drakkar Dynamik
Laroche died in Paris on 17 February 1989, at the age of 67.
In 2005, Hilary Swank won an oscar for Best Actress wearing a Guy Laroche dress, at the time designed by Herve Leger Leroux.
In November 2007, Franco-Swedish designer Marcel Marongiu took over as Artistic Director of Guy Laroche. Marcel Marongiu completed his third successful runway show with the AU/WI 2009 Collection.