'Bandage dress' designer dies, aged 60

Mr Herve Leroux at a show of his collection in 1999. He made his iconic dress from bands of yarn meant to be thrown away.
Mr Herve Leroux at a show of his collection in 1999. He made his iconic dress from bands of yarn meant to be thrown away.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

It was a dress that practically started in a rubbish bin but went on to take the world by storm.

The designer of the iconic dress, French fashion legend Herve Leroux, has died at the age of 60.

His "bandage dress", made from strips of material stitched together, became famous in the 1990s and 2000s for revealing the bodily curves of celebrities from Beyonce and Victoria Beckham to Rihanna and Lady Gaga.

Mr Leroux explained how he stumbled onto one of the defining styles of the period in an interview with online arts portal The Kinsky in 2014.

He said he had wanted something "glamorous" for the finale of a fashion show in Paris some time in the early 1990s but could not find any fabric.

Then he came across some "bands of metallic yarn" in a factory and was told that they were destined for the garbage heap. He took them and put them together on a dummy, and the first bandage dress was created.

In the interview, he also said a man had told him that a woman had turned up at a party in Caracas, Venezuela, in one of his dresses and "everybody went crazy".

LAST MEAL TOGETHER

Our last dinner with him was early (last) week in Paris...he was so full of excitement.

MS SHARON NGAN, a senior buyer from regional fashion retailer Pois Boutique in Singapore, which carries Mr Herve Leroux's dresses.

Mr Leroux's all-round talent was manifest early in life, when as a young man he studied sculpture, worked as a hairstylist and made hats before turning to clothes.

Ms Sharon Ngan, a senior buyer from regional fashion retailer Pois Boutique in Singapore which carries Mr Leroux's dresses, said she was saddened by the death of a "very dear friend".

The company had recently acquired his brand, with plans to grow it internationally.

Mr Leroux was to have been the creative director of the new partnership.

"Our last dinner with him was early (last) week in Paris... he was so full of excitement," she said.

She added that he became unwell last Tuesday and was rushed to hospital. The cause of death remains unclear.

Ms Ngan said Pois had the world's largest collection of his couture, or made-to-measure, gowns worldwide.

"He often joked that we have more dresses than in his atelier in Paris," she said.

Ms Ngan said prices for his ready-to-wear designs at Pois range from $2,000 to $5,000, while couture pieces start from $8,000. Mr Leroux often made exclusive pieces for Pois. One of its clients is Princess Tunku Tun Aminah Sultan Ibrahim of Johor.

In fact, Ms Ngan said Mr Leroux was one of the very few who would personally hand-drape each couture dress.

She said: "He knew how to make clothes that made a woman look and feel beautiful and stunning."

Mr Leroux was born on May 30, 1957, as Herve Peugnet in Bapaume, a small town in the north of France, according to the magazine Vogue UK.

"I loved him for his wit, his candour, his sublime elegance and of course, his talent, which came from authentic obsession, with no care for the commerciality of fashion," long-time client Dita Von Teese posted in a tribute to the designer on Instagram yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 08, 2017, with the headline ''Bandage dress' designer dies, aged 60'. Print Edition | Subscribe