Born: John Klosowski in Detroit, Michigan, 13 June 1937. Education: Studied architecture at Cass Technical High School, Detroit; studied fashion at Traphagen School of Fashion, New York. Career: Worked for couturier Bob Bugnand, Paris, 1957-58; established own business with signature boutique at Henri Bendel, New York, 1959; designer, Lily of France, New York, 1970s; designer, John Kloss for CIRA division of SLC Fashion Corporation, 1970s. Awards: Coty American Fashion Critics award, 1971, 1974; Knitted Textile Association Crystal Ball award, 1974. Died: 25 March 1987, in Stamford, Connecticut.
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Dress and lingerie designer John Kloss (John Klosowski) was born in Detroit, Michigan, where he studied architecture at Cass Technical High School. He moved to New York and worked for Irving Trust Company on Wall Street. Kloss ultimately gained his fashion training when he attended the Traphagen School of Fashion in New York. At age 20, he apprenticed with American-born couturier Bob Bugnand in Paris and went on to work for Serge Matta. In 1959 Kloss turned down an offer to work with Nina Ricci and instead began to design with Lisa Fonssagrives and later worked on his own, designing collections for wholesale manufacturers. Some of his designs were manufactured and distributed by Bendel's Studio, a part of Henri Bendel of New York, a store noted for discovering and supporting young fashion designers.
In the early 1960s, Kloss designed sculpturally-shaped dresses constructed from fabrics such as cotton brocades, that could be formed and molded to enclose the body. By the late 1960s he was using chiffon, matte jersey, and crêpe de chine; fluid materials which moved gracefully with the wearer. Simple dress shapes were formed without darts that did not fit tightly to the body, but flowed seductively over its curves.
Kloss used vivid colors like lemon yellows, greens, amethyst, and ruby in abstract shapes reminiscent of abstract expressionist paintings. Sophisticated, simple, clean designs were detailed with top stitching, tiny rows of buttons, simple edge trims, or tie closures. These nonstructured designs were adapted for lingerie and loungewear marketed by Lily of France and CIRA. Included were designs for nightgowns and bras, both seamless and underwired, again without superfluous lace trimmings.
The most revolutionary of Kloss' designs came about as a reaction to the "ban the bra" movement in the 1970s. He designed a bra that appeared not to exist in 1974 for Lily of France, called the "glossie," which was made from stretchy, sheer, glittery material. The design was seamless, unconstructed, but underwired, so it provided support for those women who needed it, yet wanted the braless look. The "glossie" came in solid colors such as amethyst, indigo, ruby, and mocha.
Kloss received two Coty awards, one in 1971 and another in 1974, for his lingerie designs. His nightgowns were cut from nylon in nonboudoir colors, in sophisticated, seductive cuts that emulated some of his eveningwear. In addition, Kloss also designed leotards, pajamas, swimwear, and sportswear. Under various licenses, he designed foundation garments, lingerie, loungewear, hosiery, tenniswear, and home sewing patterns. He was affiliated with the Kreisler Group of young designers under the management of Stuart Kreisler.
Whether designing dresses or loungewear, John Kloss was aware of the fashion trends, moving from sculptural, molded forms, to the free flowing more casual looks of the late 1960s and 1970s. He avoided unnecessary details, relying instead on the cut of the garment and the materials used to provide the design. The garments moved and flowed with the wearer. His designs were simple, clean, and seductive.
Kloss committed suicide in 1987.