3 January 2009

Recreating French Couture

Described as the 'poet of French Couture', fashion designer and Haute Couturier, Ted Lapidus passed away aged 79 at the beginning of this week. I was quite taken aback in all honesty at the remarkably little coverage his passing received. His beautiful tailoring and fit were admired by many First Ladies in France, as well as celebrities such as Brigitte Bardot and The Beatles.

Born in Paris in 1929, Lapidus studied Medicine at the University of Paris, however his true passion lay elsewhere. Whilst studying during the day, he spent his spare time learning fashion design. This skill would prove useful, as he was unable to finish Medical School due to financial difficulties. By the end of the Second World War however, he was a part time designer in Paris. Lapidus then travelled to Tokyo to learn more about the technical industrial aspects of fashion. Indeed he was taken by the possibilities of mass production, later stating that “If you have the right work force, there’s no reason why this cannot be done in a factory just as well as in a fashion house”.

Lapidus joined Dior in 1949, however soon left to started his own House in 1951. He opened his first Ted Lapidus Haute Couture store in 1957, the same year he opened, Tedd, his first unisex boutique. Tedd aimed to provide ready-made clothing to the younger generation, with elegant pieces that were stylish yet affordable. Along with Yves Saint Laurent, he was actually one of the first designers to do boutiques.

He was officially admitted into La Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in 1963, despite causing rather a stir with his manufacturing decision at the time. He actually signed a deal with Belle Jardinière to have many of designs mass produced and sold within their department stores. He believed that high end design was not only for those few who could afford it, rather that it should be widely available, making fashion far more accessible.

In the 1960s and '70s, Lapidus would become famous for pioneering the look of military wear in the fashion world, as well as introducing sand coloured safari jackets. He most importantly was also the designer who made denim jeans acceptable in the stylings of Haute Couture.

Lapidus left a legacy of making fashion accessible to the wider public. Indeed French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, declared that the designer "democratised French elegance and classicism" and "made fashion accessible to men and women in the street".

Currently playing: How It Was Supposed To Be - Ryan Leslie



  1. RIP Ted Lapidus... it is so sad to hear of his death, but if any good can come from it, I'm so glad that his inspiration will continue to live on in designers!

    I loved his philosophy on the fact that high end clothes was for everyone - what a great mantra :)


  2. Good information, I have never heard of him-- RIP Ted Lapidus!!!

  3. It's sad to say that a lot of great people go unnoticed when they die. When Desmond Dekker died there was no mention of it anywhere but on the web. Some of us punks and skins paid our own tribute, spinning his records and raising our glasses. You paid a nice tribute to a distinguished designer.

  4. we sure gonna miss him.. he was a genious

  5. Ted Lapidus is dead? I love how I find out about people's deaths at least 3 days or more after they've passed. Case in question: Yves Saint Laurent. It was 3 or 4 days after he died when I found out. I was distraught for weeks.

    Anyways, enough of my ramblings. RIP Ted Lapidus.

  6. What a gracious post about him. Thank you.

  7. What a gracious post about him. Thank you.

  8. love the new title picture! so chic.... (duh! is mr dapper kid) happy new year darlin'!!! as always, making the year a prettier place.


  9. He was and still is genius. Thank you for the extremely informative post.

    & exchange links? I've actually had you on mine since opening.

    always charmed . cory

  10. I had never heard of him, but I must say I loved the pictures.

    It's sad that he dies though...

    Loved the post, you write really well. :]


  11. And another one passes... hopefully the resurgence of handmade, from the source thinking/buying will give haute couture its much needed boost! Although, on second thought, maybe not because everyones cutting back. But I do see this type of niche market that are traditional and old school making it through because they're investment pieces. Happy new dapper kid! :)

  12. Love this! I may not be french, but it is still a dream of mine to have my couture house there x)

  13. I love this post, great information.


  14. I love this post. I have to admit, I've never heard of him before, but this caught my interest. I'll definitely do some more reading about his work. The poet of French Couture...What a lovely description(:

  15. That's awful, but thank you so much for reporting on this ! I'm surprised about the minimal coverage too.. he seemed so influential. I hope he wasn't one of the last few great couturiers.


  16. Lapidus' talent and work is highly underrated...

  17. Thank you for this post and for the wonderful information. This is one of the reasons why I always enjoy reading your blog :)

    And I feel a little bit better knowing that such a talented man first studied Medicine. There's hope for us medical people after all :))

  18. Oh dear. This entry led to an extensive google fest on this legend- a lovely way to spend the afternoon. Good thing I speak a little French.

  19. I love your blog. I was surprised that his death wasnt as notified as well. He helped paved the way of fine design. I'm really glad you posted this.