by Allyson Portee
Minimalism with a touch of the roaring 1920s is Haute Couture designer Adeline André’s design specialty in the world of fashion. Of Paris’s sixteen haute couture houses, André’s eponymous label claimed the honor of being called high fashion in 1997, when the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne inducted her craft.
Born in French Equatorial Africa, young André felt a sense of destiny to be involved in the fashion industry in some way. Her first inkling was photography and so, she left for England’s capital city only to find herself in her native France, in the city of lights, enrolled in fashion school at the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. Under the tutelage of artist Salvador Dalí in his fine art classes, André took on a job at Paris fashion House Christian Dior in 1970, working as an assistant for Haute Couture collections under creative director Marc Bohan. But the ever-stinging idea of going out on her own propelled André to launch her own label in 1981 with Hungarian designer István Dohár, made possible by the financial backing of Nicolas Puech.
Her first design was her original pattern three-sleeve-hole outfit, and it was patented and it continues to be on showcase at Parisian and international museums from the French Fashion Museum to the Museu do Design e da Moda in Lisbon.
Her first fashion show was her fall-winter 1983 ready-to-wear collection unique in its commencing. Guests wore garments as the show was set in a large Gérard Garouste painting, and at the end they posed for Polaroïd shots. Known for doing shows at the most unlikely of places in Paris from the “Grand Salon” of the Centre des Conférences Internationales Avenue Kléber, where the 1973 Paris Peace Accords were signed putting an end of the Vietnam War, André understands the uniqueness of a venue.
André is known for having her models mingle with guests before a fashion show. Models from Anh Duong, Angela Wild, Terry Toye and Eugenie Vincent have been seen talking to her fashion show attendees as a way to create a calm and intimate show atmosphere, another nod to the designers’ unique way of doing things.
Known for highlighting certain body parts, the designer incorporated certain pattern cutting techniques in the 80s at the height of shoulder padding for taller women giving the impression of slender figuring with her tailoring. Her use of bias-cut materials with knits and rolled hems added to the era of that time.
In 1994 André moved her atelier to 5 Rue Villehardouin in the Marais Paris old quarter, and she has presented an haute couture collection every season since 1995 with looks for men as well.
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