Andre Courreges was born in Pau, in the Basque country of France in 1923. Although he studied and became a civil engineer, he was always interested in architecture and textil design. He found work designing footwear and men’s clothing for a tailor, while occupying himself with Rugby and Mountain climbing. From 1941-1945 Courreges was a pilot in the Air Force in World War II.
In 1945, He came to Paris and worked briefly for a designer named Jeanne LaFaurie. In 1950 he was apprenticed to the Master, Balenciaga, also from the Basque region, though in Spain. He had been keen to join him for a long time, but only in 1950 did a position open up. He still considers Balenciaga his mentor. He remained with him for ten years.
Andre Courreges opened his own house, „Maison de Courreges“ at 48 ave Kleber in 1961. From here he began his leap into the future, taking his "ascetic scissors" and turning out clothes that were magical in their simplicity. In 1964 he elongated the leg. He was the father of the mini-skirt and the shift dress. His mini-skirts were the shortest in Paris, and were designed in cool colours, pink, white, ice-blue, pale turquoise, day-glow orange and lime green. He showed skinny pant styles, with tunics and jackets, slit black boxy tops with no bra back, baby bonnets tied under the chin and oversized sunglasses. His garments featured welt seams, top stitching bias, in gaberdine, double-faced wool, cotton lace, organdie and leather.
This year of 1964 was HIS year, the start of his brief reign as King of Paris Fashion. He also created the MOON GIRL look.
Featured in his Fall 1964 collection, were flared mini dresses with plastic portholes for waistlines and an assortment of hats shaped like platters. But even more revolutionary, was the footwear. Low-heeled, calf high boots made of white plastic and ornamented only with a clear cut-out slot near the top. This ‘Go-go’ boot quickly moved from the catwalk to the street and the dance floor.
In 1965 Courreges reorganized his company, and briefly bevor he changed his salon, banned the press from his collections (as Balenciaga had also done). When he re-opened, he had a carefully planned 3-tier structure:
„Prototypes“, his couture division „Couture future“, his de-luxe ready to wear „hyperbole“, inespensive ready to wear.
His new premises were at 40 ave Francois premier.
In 1967 he married his assistant, Coqueline Barriere, who had also been a Balenciaga pupil. During this year, Courreges began to experiment with tops with sequins and transparency, and designed a see-through mini in sheer organza, appliquéd with his flat round daisies.
During the 60’s Courreges assumed that all his clients lived in pants. Pants went to balls, theatre, lunches, dinners, everywhere. He dispensed with front pleats and cuffs, side pockets, fly-fronts and even belt-tab waists. His famed trouser suits, came with slit-backed boxy tops that showed a sliver of midriff. He was really the man who put women into trousers. He also made tube-shaped trousers and trousers cut on the bias; whit dresses trimmed with beige and vice-versa; mid-calf length white boots and googles.
In 1968 Courreges hit the headlines with his SPACE AGE collection. His clothes at this time, were functional, uncluttered, futuristic designs. He was fascinated by metal and put his models into metal brassieres and bustiers. Andy Warhol said "Courreges clothes are so beautiful, everyone should look the same, dressed in silver. Silver merges into everything, costumes should be worn during the day with lots of make-up." Courreges' clothes were sharp, angular and subject to a highly disciplined design. Simple, stark, trapeze-shape dresses and coats were boldly piped in contrasting colours.
In 1969 he introduced his marvelous mummified Egyptian look, giving Egypt a high fashion look for the first time. He used metallic wigs, geometric haircuts, welding plastic and frosted lips.
In the early 70's however, fashion was moving away from the "Space Age" look and there was a passion for romantic clothes, flowery, ethnic peasant looks, etc. Courreges softened the austerity of his clothes by using curves and showing knitted catsuits, and all-white collections.
1971 He introduced the Hyperbole line of sportswear for younger clients.
1972 Courreges was given the honour of designing the garments for 15,000 employees at the 1972 Summer Olympics, in 10 different styles.
1973 He launched his menswear line Courreges Homme.
1979 He diversified into fine leather goods, beauty products and other related products.
1982 In the book 2001, he predicted that clothes would go in the direction of tights, stretching in all directions and body stockings, and it does seem that fashion is going in that direction.
1985 The Japanese group Itokin, took a financial interest in the firm, although Andre Courreges is still designing his beautiful clothes.
In the mid-90's, when Andre Courreges age crossed 70 he brought in Jean Charles de Castelbajac who began designing for the house of Andre Courreges. Courreges himself still keeps an overall eye on the designs made by his house.
In his first appearance on the French couture scene, Courreges introduced a revolutionary concept of styling: space-age clothes. This included boots, googles, and dresses three above the knee. The main features of his boxy, uncluttered look spread quickly throughout the fashion world, especially the miniskirt, which he introduced to France. Among Courreges‘ later creations were sweater pants, parkas, tennis dresses, beach clothes and mechanic-style coveralls. In contrast he also came out with a glow-in-the-dark yersey dress and an array of sexy swimsuits, held together only by thin strings on the sides. He favored bright acid colors and geometrical designs. He was the most copied and plagiarised dress-designer of his era. Shortyl after he showed his space-age collection in 1964, the market was flooded with plastic skirts and jackets, angular seaming, crash helmets, white boots, and googles, for a boxy silhouette. He had his greatest time in the 60’s and 70’s when he was know for his refreshing new look.