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HERVE LEGER BANDAGE DRESSES

Herve Leger, Who Has Died Aged 60, Was The French Couturier Who Created The Bandage Dress – Hailed As One Of The Iconic Dresses Of All Time, It Made Its Way From Catwalks To The High Street.

Made For Women With “With a Bosom, a Waist And Curves”, The Herve Leger Dresses Became a Hit With The “Body Conscious” Hollywood Jet Set Of The 1990s And Noughties And Brought a New Sexiness To The Catwalk, Personified By Cindy Crawford, Plus a Plethora Of Actresses.

Liz Hurley Was Also One Of The Early Adopters Of The Dress.

With Success, Leger Needed To Expand His Business Into Ready-To-Wear In Order To Compete In The 1990s. Financial Backing Came From The Canadian Drinks Conglomerate Seagram. Initially, All Seemed Well With Leger Producing 8,000 Pieces a Season, As Against 160 Two Years Earlier. However, With More And More Investment Forthcoming, Leger’s Holding Diminished Until Seagram Owned 95 Per Cent Of The Business.

To His Consternation, It Then Sold The Company To La-Based Max Azria’s Bcbg. Within a Year He And Azria Had Fallen Out. Leger Found Himself Fired From His Own Label And Lost The Rights To The Leger Name.
Born In 1957, In The Small Town Of Bapaume, 20 Miles South Of Arras, Northern France, Herve Peugnet Left Home At 18 And Headed To Paris To Study Sculpture And Art History At The ecole Nationale Superieure Des Beaux-Arts. After Just a Year, However, He Dropped Out, Later Recalling, “It Was The Seventies, And Everyone Was On Strike”.

Wanting a Job That Made Use Of His Hands And His Curiosity About The Properties All Types Of Fibres, He Embarked Upon a Hairdressing Apprenticeship – Effectively Training With a Difficult Fibre. Soon He Was Working Backstage At Fashion Shows For Houses Such As Chloe And Ysl. He Was Taught Himself To Make Hats And Dresses, And Secured Contract Work For Lanvin, Swarovski And Costume Designer Tan Giudicelli.

It Was a Meeting At a Chloe Dinner Party In 1980, With German Couturier Karl Lagerfeld, However, Which Was To Change His Direction And His Life. “The Kaiser” Wanted a New Assistant And Asked To See Peugnet’s Sketches. Although Less Than Impressed, Lagerfeld Took Him On. The Pair Work Together At Fendi In Rome And Then Back At Chanel In Paris.

Four Years Later, Peugnet Was Ready To Set Up His Own Business. On The Advice Of Lagerfeld, Claiming It Was Too Difficult For Anglophones To Pronounce, Peugnet Changed His Name To Leger, Taken From The French Word “Legèrete” – Lightness.

The Label Herve Leger Gown Launched In 1985 And, By The Late 1980s, The Bandage Dress Had Arrived, Which Appealed Because Of Its Tightness And Ability To Hold The Figure Positively, In And Up – This Allowed Unrestricted Poses For The Cameras. His First Full Collection In This Style Was Shown In 1991.
The Inception Of “The Bandage Dress Was a Simple One,” He Once Recalled. “One Day In a Factory, I Found Some Bands That Were Headed For The Garbage. As a Hat Maker, They Gave Me The Idea Of Taking Those Bands And Putting Them Next To One Another As One Does Making a Hat, Using The Elastic Properties Of The Material (Rather Than Draping) To Provide Its Form.
He Also Designed Active Swimwear And Tights, Too. In 1994 Ballet Costumes For Roland Petit’s Company At The Paris Opera.
Following The Loss Of His Label, Leger Kept a Lower Profile Until 2000, When He Founded His Own Independently Financed Fashion House With His Sister Jocelyne: Herve L Leroux. This New Surname Was Again Suggested By His Friend And Mentor Lagerfeld. He Had Chosen Leroux On The Basis That Leger Had Once Had Red Hair “And Everyone Will Know Who You Are.”

The Fledgling Business Struggled Financially, However, Although Leger Persisted, Making Couture And Swimwear For Private Clients. Between 2004 And 2006, He Worked As Creative Director At Guy Laroche, Dressing Hilary Swank In a Memorable Backless Midnight-Blue Jersey Gown, For The 2005 Oscars Where She Won Best Actress. He Also Worked For The High-End Austrian Manufacturer Wolford.

In 2007, Azria Launched His Version Of Leger’s Bandage Dresses, Worn By The Likes Of Kim Kardashian, Which Paradoxically Raised Leroux’s Profile. He Subsequently Started Getting New Clients From All Spheres Of The Celebrity World, Including Cate Blanchett, Kylie Minogue, Jemima Khan, Naomi Watts, Taylor Swift And Kim Kardashian.

His Passion Was Still In Garments That Clung To a Female Form But He Had Begun To Use Different Techniques To Mould The Body, Replacing Strip And Panel Structures With Draped Cloth, Working In Soft Viscose And Silk Jerseys – An Elegant Departure From The Skin-Tight Silhouette Of The Bandage Dress. Dita Von Teese Noted Leroux Was In The Same Classical Class As The Great Parisian Couturière Madame Grès, Both Having Been Inspired By The Materials Depicted In Greek Sculpture.

Leroux Was Loved For Always Managing To Accentuate His Clients’ Positives And Eliminate Their Negatives. He Liked To See Women Confident, Even Happy, And Lamented The Cult Of Starvation Among Modern-Day Models, Declaring, “His Draperies Were Meaningless On Coat Hangers.”

In 2013, Leroux’s Comeback Was Complete When The Federation De La Haute Couture Asked Him To Return To The Paris Collections As a Guest, Recognising His Deserved Place As An Original. Perhaps Somewhat Ironically, Bcbg Filed For Bankruptcy In March Of This Year. Leger Died Of a Ruptured Aneurysm, And Is Survived By His Sister.
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