The Ongoing Legacy of Christian Aujard
Christian Aujard wasn’t the first to create ready-to-wear clothing, nor the first to create sportswear, but he was among the first to do it with such style. He had a rare ability to take a worn and played out idea fresh and modern, giving new life to ideas that would have otherwise been past their time.
The Life and Times of Christian Aujard
Christian Aujard was born in Brittany, France in 1945. He didn’t start as a fashion designer or an artist as so many of his peers did. Instead he was a delivery boy and a stock clerk, before becoming financial manager for Charles Maudret, a wholesale firm that sold ready-to-wear clothing. But within a few years, he was ready to create his own line of clothing.
His first collection was praised because of its youthful look, brilliant colors, and bold prints. Anyone looking to buy good-looking sportswear knew they could find it in Aujard’s work. His first customer base was the young woman who was interested in keeping her look contemporary. To that end, he took the classic look and made it into something new, something chic, and became a new star in the fashion world.
Christian Aujard did not work alone, however. Assisting him was Michele Domercq. She used to be an art student, but now she was helping produce Aujard fashions as a silk designer. Soon, she was his business partner, then his wife. She enabled Aujard to make his vision a reality. Their clothing quickly spread to upscale boutiques and stores all over Europe, then over the Atlantic into America.
As was his trend, Aujard took the old standbys and made them modern and exciting, giving the trench coats, pants, skirts, and blazers a new look that suited the young. Instead of being stiff and formal, he made subtle changes that made them afford easier movement. He added details to update the cut and look of his clothing, making them appealing to a new generation. The material was given some attention, too. Instead of using the synthetic fabrics that were so common from the late 60s and throughout the 70s, he used only natural fibers – silk, wool, mohair, cotton, linen, cashmere, and crepe.
At a time when more and more women were entering the work force, the common reaction from fashion designers was to simply take a men’s style and tailor it for the shape of a woman. Aujard did this, too. But in the typical Aujard way, he did something more than what everyone else did. Where the competitor’s clothing looked just like the men’s wear, Aujard kept his outfits very feminine, turning the formal into something smart and pretty, while still keeping it professional. He came out with item after item, all of which became huge sellers.
The silk clothing, which were Michele’s specialty, eventually became a line under her own name. She designed the elegant short dresses, which manage to be sexy yet refined that are still standard cocktail dress design today. Christian would create the daywear, while Michele created eveningwear, and in many cases the first time each saw the collection of the other was when they were first shown to the public.
Christian Aujard did not only design women’s clothing. A few years after his debut, he began to produce ready-to-wear clothing for men, as well. These collections were for business or casual wear, with his trademark of giving classic looks a contemporary spin. Men were allowed a little color, allowing them to look sophisticated, yet bright. There was something witty about his men’s designs, and they always sold as well as his women’s clothing.
The Aujard Legacy
The work of Christian Aujard ended in 1975, due to his accidental death. The business was left in the capable hands of his wife. She managed both the Christian Aujard line and the Michele Aujard line, including the single fragrance they produced and the scented soap that went with their clothing.
The Aujard name did well under Michele, as she followed in the tradition of her husband, making the ordinary into the extraordinary. She also was not afraid to make bold new choices in the realms of cut or color. It is a skill of both Aujards to push the envelope without pushing ahead so far that no one will follow.