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Pauline Trigere Oral History (part 1)
Audio recording of fashion designer, Pauline Trigere. Interviewed by Robert L. Green on November 13, 1979 at her Park Avenue apartment. Fashion Institute of Technology (NYC).
This is the first interview in a three-part series between Robert L. Green of the Fashion Institute of Technology and American fashion designer, Pauline Trigere. This first interview covers Trigere's arrival in New York City from Paris in 1937, her start in fashion through the coat business run by her husband and by her brother, her brief work at Ben Gershel as Travis Benton's assistant, and then her work as assistant designer at Hattie Carnegie. Trigere explains how this last job led to her opening her own business in 1942, which turns the convsersation towards the long work required in fashion and the over saturation of the fashion design field. Trigere also speaks repeatedly of American fashion and French fashion, and the importance of "style" versus "fashion" and how she has tried to make "style" a key element in her designs. Toward the end of the interview, Trigere comments on her ability to change over time, in taste and opinion. She then goes on to speak of her stature as an American designer and how it has affected her.
Pauline Trigere was born November 4th, 1908 in Paris, France and died February 13th, 2002 in New York City. Despite growing up in Paris, Trigere became a prominent and influential American fashion designer and was an advocate for American fashion design, serving as one of the original founding memebers of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) in 1962. Trigere arrived in New York on January 6th, 1937, when she and her husband and two children left Europe as Hitler began gaining power. Trigere's brother and husband opened a coat warehouse which led, eventually, to Trigere designing dresses for the business. After separating from her husband, Trigere briefly worked for Ben Gershel and then Hattie Carnegie. Trigere eventually took over the workshop when Hattie Carnegie closed her ready-to-wear line in 1942; this was the beginning of Pauline Trigere's own business. Mostly designing by draping on live models, Trigere became known for her timeless styles which avoided being overly trendy. Crisp tailoring that was also decidedly feminine exemplified Trigere's style in addition to her innovative use of cotton and wool in evening wear. She was also known for her use of fur trim. Trigere received 3 Coty awards; first in 1949, then in 1951, and then in 1959 with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Additionally, Trigere received the Neiman Marcus award in 1950, the National Cotton Council of America award in 1951, and the Filene award in 1959. Trigere was also honored by her birth city in 1972 and 1982 with the Silver Medal of the City of Paris.
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