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Christian Lacroix, 20 Years of Haute Couture on the Catwalk -Arles (FR) July 2008.

Christian Marie Marc Lacroix (French pronunciation: [kʁistjɑ̃ lakʁwa]; born May 16, 1951) is a high-end French fashion designer. The name may also refer to the company he founded.

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Early life

Lacroix was born in Arles, Bouches-du-Rhône in southern France. At a young age he began sketching historical costumes and fashions. Lacroix graduated from high school in 1969 and moved to Montpellier, to study Art History at the University of Montpellier. In 1971, he enrolled at the Sorbonne in Paris. While working on a dissertation on dress in French 18th-century painting, Lacroix also pursued a program in museum studies at the École du Louvre. His aspiration during this time was to become a museum curator. It was during this time he met his future wife Françoise Rosenthiel, whom he married in 1974.

Career

Around the same time, he met Jean-Jacques Picart. Picart was press attache for several haute couture houses and provided aid in gaining Christian Lacroix a job working at Hermès in 1978, where he worked on color schemes and the execution of designs, and then Guy Paulin in 1980. After graduating from the École du Louvre, in 1981 he started working at Jean Patou, where he worked until 1987.

With help from Jean-Jacques Picart, Lacroix managed to put out season after season of popular clothing. Bright colors, luxuriance, and perfection made Lacroix and Picart popular designers of the time.

Later, Lacroix would gain the award for "most influential designer" by the CFDA for foreign designer in January 1987.

Christian Lacroix couture

Christian Lacroix, 20 Years of Haute Couture on the Catwalk.

In 1987 he opened his own couture house. He began putting out ready-to-wear in 1988 drawing inspiration from diverse cultures. Critics commented that he did not seem to understand the type of clothing the working woman needed. In 1989, Lacroix launched jewelry, handbags, shoes, glasses, scarves and ties (along with ready-to-wear). In this same year, he opened boutiques within Paris, Arles, Aix-en-Provence, Toulouse, London, Geneva and Japan.

With his background in historical costume and clothing, Lacroix soon made headlines with his opulent, fantasy creations, including the short puffball skirt ("le pouf"), rose prints, and low décolleté necklines. He quoted widely from other styles—from fashion history (the corset and the crinoline), from folklore, and from many parts of the world—and he mixed his quotations in a topsy-turvy manner. He favored the hot colors of the Mediterranean region, a hodgepodge of patterns, and experimental fabrics, sometimes handwoven in local workshops.

In 2009 the fashion house, owned by duty-free retailer Falic Fashion Group, put the business into administration and laid off all but 12 workers. Lacroix's A/W 2009 Haute Couture was privately financed by Lacroix and each model was paid €50. "I didn't want to cry," said Lacroix "I want to continue, maybe in a different way, with a small atelier. What I really care about is the women who do this work" Lacroix said about his last Haute Couture collection. Throughout its history it never turned a profit and reported a €10 million loss in 2008.[1]

Diffusion lines

In 1994, Lacroix launched his Bazar line. His collections during the times of 1994 were based on old culture and folklore, as well as fables and the past. In 1995, he launched a towel line which contained a fashion and lifestyle side, which represent how the two intertwine ("two sides of the same coin").

In 1996, he launched a Jeans line. He included past traditions from all around the world, continuing the line with even more on ethnic arts.

In 1997, the Art de la Table line was launched by him in partnership with Christofle. A licensing agreement was also reached in this year with Pronuptian in which he could launch his Christian Lacroix Marriage line.

In 1999, he launched his first line of floral perfumes, and in 2000 he finished a line of novelty accessories which included semi-precious jewelry.

In 2001, Lacroix also launched a children's line and in 2002, he launched a perfume, Bazar, created by Bertrand Duchaufour, Jean-Claude Ellena and Emilie Copperman.

In 2004, Lacroix launched a lingerie for women line, as well as a menswear line.

He is known for his theatrical style which came from his work while in the theatre. This usually shows up with his use of colour in the collections he designs. Along with this, he is also known for his 'le pouf' gown (featuring the ball skirt), as well as closing all his haute couture fashion shows with a model dressed up as a bride.

Christian Lacroix Rouge, a perfume created by Lacroix exclusively for Avon Products.

He served as the Creative Director for the Italian fashion house Emilio Pucci from 2002-2005. He left on agreeable terms as he and the house believed that since he had other pursuits, it would be unfair to the house to not put in the energy required for future collections along with his other work.

Christian Lacroix has designed many dresses for Hollywood stars; among them, he is responsible for designing Christina Aguilera's wedding dress and in the 1990s was famed as being a favourite designer of Edina Monsoon in the UK sitcom Absolutely Fabulous (for which the house drew dubious credit).

He has also been the designer of the new uniform of Air France staff and crew in 2004 and pyjamas signed by him are handed out to passengers travelling on Air France First Class (L'Espace Premier).

Today, Lacroix has 60 points of sale within France (department stores included). Around the world, Lacroix has 1,000 total points of sale.

For Winter 2007, He has partnered with Avon cosmetics to introduce a new fragrance exclusive to Avon called Christian Lacroix Rouge for women (plus body lotion and shower gel) and Christian Lacroix Noir for men (plus after shave lotion and shower gel). His Avon product line was expanded with the release of Christian Lacroix Absynthe in the Spring of 2009 and Christian Lacroix Absynthe For Him in the autumn of 2009.

For Summer 2008, he is the guest curator of the Rencontres d'Arles.

Christian Lacroix's costume designs for the opera, theatre, dance and music can be seen at the exhibition "Christian Lacroix Costumier" at the National Museum of Singapore from March to June 2009.

Christian Lacroix, the French couturier whose artistic and exuberant pouf dresses propelled him to fame in the 1980s, became the latest victim of the global financial crisis on Thursday when the fashion house bearing his name filed for court protection from creditors.

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