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July 24, 2022

Jacques Fath: One of the Dominant Influences on Postwar Haute Couture

Born 1912 in Maisons-Laffitte, French fashion designer Jacques Fath presented his first collection in 1937, working out of a two-room salon on Rue de la Boetie. The studio was later moved to a second location on Rue Francois Premier in 1940 before settling into a third location at 39 Avenue Pierre-ler-de-Serbie in 1944. Among his models was Lucie Daouphars, a.k.a. Lucky, a former welder who eventually became the top house model for Christian Dior.

Classic beauties wearing Jacques Fath designs in the early 1950s

A self-taught designer who learned his craft from studying museum exhibitions and books about fashion, Fath hired a number of young designers as assistants and apprentices, some of which later went on to form their own houses, including Hubert de Givenchy, Guy Laroche, and Valentino Garavani.

A popular and occasionally innovative designer known for dressing “the chic young Parisienne”, Fath utilized such materials as hemp sacking and sequins made of walnut and almond shells. His 1950 collection was called Lily, and its skirts were shaped to resemble flowers. For eveningwear, he advocated velvet gowns. During World War II, Fath was known for “wide fluttering skirts” which, The New York Times explained, “he conceived for the benefit of women forced to ride bicycles during gasoline rationing”. His clients included Ava Gardner, Greta Garbo, and Rita Hayworth, who wore a Fath dress for her wedding to Prince Aly Khan.

Fath died of leukemia in 1954 at the age of 42. He was the subject of a 1994 documentary film by Pascal Franck called Les Folies de Fath. Here below is his stunning fashion collection in the early 1950s.

Bettina and Jean Patchett in gowns by Jacques Fath, 1950

Bettina in a Jacques Fath ball gown fit for a queen, 1950

Bettina in evening gown with fern leaf motif by Jacques Fath, Vogue, 1950

Bettina in the "Red Shoes" evening gown by Jacques Fath, photo by Irving Penn, Vogue, September 1950

Evelyn Tripp in dress by Jacques Fath, photo by Erwin Blumenfeld, 1950.

Evelyn Tripp in dress by Jacques Fath, photo by Erwin Blumenfeld, 1950

Sophie is wearing exquisite faded rose velvet coatdress trimmed in mink by Jacques Fath, veiled mink hat, jeweled clips by Roger Scemama, 1950

Agnès in exquisite ball gown by Jacques Fath, 1951

Bettina and Sophie in silk taffeta dresses by Jacques Fath, photo by John Rawlings, originally published in American Vogue, 1951

Eva Gerney in gorgeous ball gown by Jacques Fath, Vogue, May 1, 1951

Jackie Stoloff in purple woolen coat, belted over gray skirt by Jacques Fath, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1951

Lucky in pink geranium velvet cocktail dress adorned with black ribbon bow, by Jacques Fath, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1951

Lucky is wearing emerald green satin evening gown by Jacques Fath to compliment magnificent emerald and diamond parure by Cartier, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1951

Sophie Malgat in Fath's dégrade orange pleated tulle evening gown with floral bodice called "Sunbeam", published in Réalities, April 1951

Sophie Malgat in green wool coat with giant buttons lined diagonally, waist is cinched by patent leather belt, worn with white piqué hat, by Jacques Fath, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1951

Unpublished photo of model Julia in Jacques Fath evening gown for British Vogue by Horst P. Horst, 1951

Anne Gunning is wearing a black grosgrain shawl in two layers with slits for the hands over a square-necked white grosgrain dress by Susan Small after Fath, black straw hat by R.M. Hats, photo by Maurice Tabard, 1952

Joan Whelan in two-piece silk crepe dress with finely pleated skirt by Jacques Fath,photo by Pottier, 1952

Model in simple but elegant wool coat and grey jersey turban by Jacques Fath, croc handbag by P. & R.Dubost, photo by Philippe Pottier in front of sculpture by André Bloc, 1952

Sophie Malgat is wearing satin gown by Jacques Fath, photo by Pottier, L'Officiel, 1952

Suzy Parker in gown by Jacques Fath, photo by Horst, Vogue, April 1952

Anne Gunning in gown by Jacques Fath, photo by Mark Shaw, 1953

Anne Gunning in white satin gown with velvet ribbon outlining the bosom by Jacques Fath, photographed in the foyer at Fath's chateau at Corbeville by Mark Shaw, 1953

Anne Gunning in woolen redingote with velvet collar by Jacques Fath, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1953

Dovima wearing a taupe wool and velvet suit by Ben Zuckerman with a red hat by Jacques Fath, photo by Horst P. Horst used for cover of Vogue, 1953

Marie-Thérèse in silk gauze dress, the bodice, decorated with two bows, falls into soft pleats in the skirt, black patent leather belt cinches the waist, by Jacques Fath, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1953

Myrtle Crawford in pale mauve chiffon evening gown, wide satin bands in two tones of purple extend to the floor, by Jacques Fath, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1953

Stella in black and white silk ottoman cocktail sheath with matching coat lined in pink satin by Jacques Fath, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1953

Suzy Parker in ball gown of blue satin with intricately seamed bodice, back-swung and bow-knot sleeves by Jacques Fath, photo by John Rawlings, Vogue, Novermber 1, 1953

Ann Farrar in sumptuous brocade dress and jacket trimmed in mink by Jacques Fath, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1954

Anne Campion in orange wool coat in the new 3/4 length with deep indented collar and large pockets by Jacques Fath, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1954

Anne Gunning in beautiful satin-striped silk organdy gown in floral print of reds and dusky leaves worn under its Victorian jacket by Jacques Fath, photo by Henry Clarke, Vogue, April 15, 1954

Elinor in classic overcoat buttoned all the way with large patch pockets, worn over tailored suit with pleated skirt by Jacques Fath, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1954

Joan Whelan in pink and gray print silk dress, the lining of the pink wool coat matches the dress, by Jacques Fath, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1954

Marie-Hélène in bright red wool coat by Jacques Fath, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1954

Marie-Hélène in silver lamé ensemble, the coat is lined in quilted brown satin, the collar is sable, large pockets hang on each side, worn with small brown velvet cap, by Jacques Fath, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1954

Marie-Thérèse in 7/8 coat cut full in the back worn over slim jersey dress in same color by Jacques Fath, croc handbag by Amaryllis, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1954

Myrtle Crawford in a silk floral print afternoon dress worn with wide-brimmed green straw hat, by Jacques Fath, photo by Philippe Pottier, 1954

Patricia Prunonosa is wearing white back-laced bodice brassiere, lace petticoat, and black lace topped stockings from the Jacques Fath collection, photo by Henry Clarke, Vogue, 1954

"La Librairie", Carmen Dell' Orefice is wearing coat by Jacques Fath, photo by Georges Dambier, Paris, 1954




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