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Laug, André

LAUG, André

French designer working in Rome

Born: Alsace, France, 29 December 1931. Career: Moved to Paris, 1958, to begin working for Raphäel fashion house; designer, Nina Ricci, Paris, early 1960s; worked freelance, from 1962, selling designs to Venet; collaborated with Courréges until 1963, when he moved to Rome; designed nine collections of haute couture and five of ready-to-wear for Maria Antonelli, 1964-68; opened own couture house and showed own collection, Rome, 1968; house continued for a few years after his death, then closed. Died: December 1984, in Rome.

Publications

On LAUG:

Books

Lambert, Eleanor, World of Fashion: People, Places, Resources, New York, 1976.

Soli, Pia, Il genio antipatico, Milan, 1984.

Stegemeyer, Anne, Who's Who in Fashion, Third Edition, New York, 1996.

Articles

McEvoy, Marian, "Rome Laurels to Laug, Valentino," in WWD, 20July 1978.

Talley, André Leon, "André Laug," in Vogue (Paris), January 1981.

Morris, Bernadine, "André Laug, Stylist," [obituary] in the New York Times, 18 December 1984.

"Milan Steers a More Balanced Course Back to Sanity After Two Seasons of Turbulence," in the Chicago Tribune, 17 March 1985.

"André Laug: chiaro, lieve con quel preciso stile," in Vogue (Milan), March 1987.

"Roma alta moda: André Laug," in Vogue (Milan), March 1988.

***

In July 1978, am enthused retailer told Women's Wear Daily about André Laug's latest couture collection: "The suits, the suits, the suits. His suits are divine. These clothes are so neat, so technically perfect, so sharp." For the client of keenest interest in impeccable tailoring along with a kind of restraint and temperate elegance about her style, Laug was the perfect expression of the Roman couture. From the 1960s until his death in 1984, Laug produced definitive collections of Roman style combining expertise in tailoring and the richest materials with a sober moderation.

For the American clientéle in particular, Laug suits held a Daisy Miller enchantment in an equilibrium between European sensuality and luxury and American simplicity. Americans may have, in general, expected the fireworks of extravagant Roman couture in the 1970s, but Laug provided an aesthetic closer to Roman Holiday a reserved beauty. Moreover, the designer's success in the couture occasioned a lively, if somewhat less characteristic ready-to-wear business in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Tailored clothing by Laug was sufficiently elegant to move from cocktails to evening. A simple Laug black jacket with mushroom-like shoulders would have worked for daywear, but clearly would pass as evening dress. In his final collection, a charcoal quilted wool and silk evening jacket with black velvet trousers certainly would have sufficed for an elegant day as much as for evening. Laug knew the ethos of casual clothing in the 1970s and created an eveningwear that accommodated the social change of the period toward informality.

His American clientéle was typically old-guard and even conservative, the high-quality and high-comfort sense of the Philadelphia Main Line (his discreet good taste sold especially well at Nan Duskin in Philadelphia). As Bernadine Morris noted, "His designs were not the spectacular kind that change the shape of fashion. They were conservative day and evening clothes, which made women feel comfortable. They reflected the way Mr. Laug himself dressed, like a banker."

Trustworthy chic of Laug's kind was often compared to menswear in opposition to the fluctuations of women's fashion in the 1970s. By avoiding excess, in allowing for a mix of day and evening elements, Laug allowed his clients to develop a sensible, abiding wardrobe. Like menswear, trousers and jackets were basic for both day and evening. Jackets were clearly tailored for women with a defined waist. Ironically, Laug's design interests and his personal sense of forbearance were pursued by many other designers by the time of Laug's death at the age of 53. His love of black was almost the same as the prevalence of fashion black in the 1980s. The swanky luxury of his understated garments began with the textiles, lining jackets with rich and vivid textiles to inflect the relative moderation of the exterior. Further, the abstemious chic of a Laug suit would assume apparent luxury as accompanied by its silk blouse.

In the subtle distinctions among those designers who influence their colleagues and establish wardrobes for the most stylish women, as opposed to the most flamboyant and visible, André Laug represented the achievement of fashion as a well-bred, well-made design art. His catwalk shows were extravagant and showy, but not so the clothing. He sought no vanguard and claimed no new invention, but he made undeniably beautiful clothing for the most selective clients practicing a lifestyle of utmost urbanity and discretion.

At the time of his death, Laug had completed more than a dozen design sketches for his next fall/winter collection. His staff reproduced these designs, which were, according to the Chicago Tribune (17 March 1985), "in the designer's timeless tradition of classic, elegant, ladylike suits and dressesdistinguished by waist definition and the use of bright jewel tones." After the collection debuted, Laug's staff sought a French-speaking designer to continue the late designer's legacy. Though the fashion house remained in business for a few years, no one ever filled the void left by André's death, and the company closed.

Richard Martin

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