Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Jean-Marie Armand


Jean-Marie Armand was born about 1930. He got his start at Nina Ricci in 1953 and continued there for 7 years, working his way up to an assistant designer position.

Madelaine de Rauch, Spring 1961

Armand's first big break came in 1960, when he was hired as the designer for Madelaine de Rauch. His first solo collection for de Rauch was shown in January 1961. For weeks before the line was presented, rumors abounded that Armand was the next great talent. However, the line was a huge flop, as he showed nothing new or innovative. In fact, Armand showed tailored suits, coats, and dresses that were too similar to the designs he used to produce at Nina Ricci. The audience was so disappointed, many people walked out before the show was complete.


Armand then disappeared from press mention until July of 1965 when he opened his own small couture house in Paris. His designs were very modern and architectural, much like those of Courreges and Cardin. He introduced his quadrangular skirt, one made of 4 panels whose seams formed an angular shape (see first photo above). He continued to use the quadrangular design season after season.


His star continued to rise for the next few years as his unusual designs met with acclaim. His tiny Paris showroom was known for it's Mod look with white walls, spherical seats, and plexiglass runway.


Armand reached the height of his career in 1968 and 1969. You see many of his best designs from those years here. An interesting note about Armand's designs: He never used buttons as he thought they ruined the lines of the garment. His coats always closed with hidden snaps.

Mentions of Jean-Marie Armand disappear from the press in 1971. Perhaps he was unable to adapt to the softer and less structured aesthetic of the 1970s. Perhaps he closed his showroom for good and retired. I am unable to find a reason for his disappearance. If anyone has more information, please contact me or comment here.

UPDATE: Facebook fan Nadine has graciously allowed me to share this photo of a Jean-Marie Armand coat that is in her personal collection. Thank you, Nadine!

Please note: This biography about Jean-Marie Armand is copyright of Couture Allure and may not be copied without permission.