A Look Into the Career of the Eponymous Designer Christian Lacroix
A Humble Origin
Christian Lacroix, the famous jeweler, fashion designer, and entrepreneur, started off with studying Art History at the University of Montpellier in hopes of becoming an art critic. He also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris as an art history connoisseur. While working on his dissertation, Lacroix pursued a program at the École du Louvre in museum studies, aiming at becoming a museum curator in the future.
At around this time he met his muse, unconditional supporter, and would-be wife, Françoise Rosenthiel. In four years, the couple will celebrate their 50th anniversary. Rosenthiel encouraged Lacroix’s interest in fashion and soon young Lacroix started off his career under the umbrella of the Hermes Fashion House as a fashion journalist. Later, after receiving the prestigious CFDA award as the most successful designer of the year, Lacroix ventured to create his own brand.
In April 1987 The House of Christian Lacroix was established with the help of press agent Jean-Jacques Picart and with support from Bernard Arnault. All throughout Paris, the name of Christian Lacroix was heard, and word of his newly found company spread quickly.
On the 26th of July of the same year, Christian Lacroix revealed his first Haute Couture collection for the Autumn-Winter season of 1987. This was an extremely bold move, taking into account the economic situation of the world at the time. In 1987, in the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center, he staged his first New York fashion show, which took place literally a week after the market crash.
The Styles of the Lacroix House
Lacroix’s first collection was colorful, radiant, and joyous. The collection paid homage to the couturier’s roots, as most designs were permeated with Mediterranean influences. Christian Lacroix revisited the themes and designs of traditional Arlesian outfits, and drew inspiration from the toreador’s cape. During the era of predominant simplicity, Christian Lacroix chose to demonstrate elegant, yet elaborate exuberance.
In 1989, followed by a menswear collection and a boutique, he introduced seven accessory lines and 10 years later he created a jewelry line.
Often described as bold and lavish combinations--inspired by the innovative movements and influences that shaped the art world--Christian Lacroix chose brooches, earrings, necklaces, or bracelets as mediums with which to convey his design ideals. From incorporating the avant-garde movement into his work to paying homage to the elegant and fragile Lady Diana Cooper, Lacroix’s jewelry pieces can always be described as exciting.
The media employed by Christian Lacroix are the most luxurious material used in unexpected techniques. For example, gold and silver are used in a patchwork-like pattern and rubies are sprinkled over the work. His pieces are also known to involve elements of folklore and history through unusual shapes and interesting color.
Lacroix says his fashion icon is The Queen of England. One of the reasons for that is her choice of colors. Lacroix once designed the uniform of the Air France staff and crew, and pajamas signed by him are also handed out to passengers traveling on the Air France First Class (L'Espace Premier).
Christian Lacroix Today
In 2009, right after another market crash, Christian Lacroix left his position as the House’s Artistic Director. Sacha Walckhoff, who had worked at the House since 1992, was then named Creative Director, and she continued the House’s transformation alongside President Nicolas Topiol. Together, they extended the house’s creative focus to decoration and lifestyle collections. The Christian Lacroix House will celebrate its 33rd anniversary this year.