Changing life

The liberation of women is a noble enough cause, but it needs to go farther. We need to extend to the rest of the planet, including the male sex and the wider world of objects large and small, the benefits of clarity, simplicity and perfect execution. All creative people are megalomaniacs. When a megalomaniac creative spirit is also an engineer, meticulousness is added to the equation. Then his ideas can be extended indefinitely. No domain or sector is spared. It is not surprising that the couturier returned to the dreams of his youth and began constructing buildings. But when he began focusing on new technologies and the design of a completely revolutionary car, he revealed himself to be something more. What was the source of his boundless, all-consuming energy, this energy that threatened to consume him if it found no outlet? It must come from a conviction – we might even call it a mission. He must be convinced that Courrèges is good and useful to the human race. That he can make a real contribution to Progress. And why shouldn’t he?

Erik Orsenna

White

The Chinese ideogram for the sun is a square with rather vague, rounded corners and a point in the centre. The symbol also means “white,” since in China, the sun is considered to be white, not yellow. Here, the ideogram for “cotton” is created by combining three symbols: a bush, a shuttle and the famous white sun. In 1965, the Courrèges collection was displayed entirely in white: in a box with white floors, white walls, white ceilings. “Like Le Corbusier, who brought light into houses,” said Courrèges, “I want to bring light into clothing design.”

We shouldn’t forget that André Courrèges once aspired to be an architect, and that he is from the South. I have often been to Pau, the beautiful town where André Courrèges was born. It is a very particular part of southern France, a place where there are two distinct kinds of light: the light from the sky and the light reflected from the Pyrenees, that long, immaculate mountain range that dominates the horizon.

White? “White is the colour of an object refracting all the light rays of the solar spectrum” – so we are told by the dictionary of the Académie Française. So when you see white you are actually seeing all the colours.

But there is more to white than that.
White is the blank page, the dizzy thrill of creative beginnings. And also the idea of a second chance: of wiping the slate clean and starting over. White is a ray of sunshine passing through an open window (in the word “radiant ,” there is “ray.”)
There is the white of health: nurses wear white; Doctor Courrèges is taking care of you.
There is the white of “white hot:” a burst of energy.
There is looking into “the whites of their eyes:” face-to-face.
There is confrontation and chivalry in our relationship with the colour white: everything is starkly visible against a white background, there is nowhere to hide; you are directly in the line of fire.

Erik Orsenna

“My style accompanies a silhouette, a way of moving through life.”

André Courrèges

Two people

He was raised in Pau.
She in Hendaye.
At twenty years old, he was trying to decide if he should be an architect or a builder of bridges.
At twenty-seven, he was walking down the Avenue Montaigne. It was a beautiful day – and he had made his decision. He would be a couturier. He went to work for Balenciaga.
She is sixteen. She didn’t hesitate for a moment: she went straight to Balenciaga. It was Monsieur Balenciaga who taught– more than anyone else – that style was “the combination of technique, aesthetics and finishing into a single harmonious result.”
Her name was Coqueline.
His, André.
They became inseparable.
And inseparable they remain.
Every aspect of their work has been a shared enterprise.
Marie is their daughter.

Erik Orsenna

“It is important to distinguish style and fashion. Fashions change; style perpetuates itself through a recognizable personality of its own.”

André Courrèges