After finishing college, Laug veered away from a career in law, against his parent’s wishes, and instead dedicated two years to teaching.
After serving in the military in Algeria for two years he returned to Gravelines to begin work as a military instructor and then for an import-export company.
At 27 years old, Laug broke into the world of fashion in Paris, encouraged by his friend, journalist Lucien François. There he presented his first works as a designer, under the label Raphaël, an atelier specialized in women’s couture with a laboratory on Avenue Georges V where just a year later Givenchy established itself. Laug’s talent brought drastic shapes to the silhouettes, which will bring him notoriety later in his career. At Raphaël, the French designer was exposed to the organizational nuances of a successful haute couture atelier.
After various professional conflicts with Crahay, André Laug left Nina Ricci, satisfied however that he mastered the skill that matters the most in fashion: a strong knowledge and sensibility for fabric. For a year he collaborated with Philippe Venet (master tailor at Givenchy), during which time he met André Courrèges, considered the “architect” of French fashion during a time when France was forging a new suit culture largely inspired from the anglo-saxon model. From Courrèges, together with inspiration from his favorite designer Coco Chanel, he learned the modern concept of fashion, the drama that is achieved through simple, linear forms – a concept that will present itself throughout his entire career. In the photo: Actress and model Marisa Berenson in a Courrèges model from the 1960s (Photo by André Carrara)
Important relationships with the most notable international retailers were made during the designer’s first collection of couture, including retail partnerships and collaborations with Elizabeth Arden, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue: André Laug was already selling in the most important boutiques in Europe. Martha Phillips, the highly regarded American buyer, introduced him to the US market. He became one of the preferred designers for Audrey Hepburn – to whom he dedicated the “Audrey” line – among a long list of actresses and international socialites who flooded his atelier. Many supermodels starred in his runway shows: the decade that followed was marked as a period of starification for the designer’s collaboration with the world’s supermodels. In the photo: Linda Morand for André Laug (Photo by Bob Krieger)
André Laug became the preferred designer for national and international socialites. Among his clients were Audrey Hepburn, the American First Ladies Jackie Kennedy and Barbara Bush, Lee Radziwill, Diana Ross, Kathy Hilton, cosmetic entrepreneur Estée Lauder, Carrol Baker, Ira Fürstenberg, Mia d’Acquarone et de Riencourt, Anna and Alice Bulgari, Margareth Trudeau, Helietta Caracciolio, Mrs. Campbell (owner of the eponymous American brand), Rossella Falck, Paulette Goddard, Capucine and many others.
On the runway the Woman by Laug exuded femininity unparalleled by other designers, sophisticated and luxurious: “In total contrast to how the majority of women dress today,” admonishes the designer for the pages of Vogue, “the fact that they need to move and work and are in a hurry isn’t a valid excuse for a disheveled appearance. An untidy appearance only masks laziness, physically and morally.” In the photo: Audrey Hepburn Dotti photographed October 8, 1973 at the wedding reception for German Princess Teresa of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn with Spanish Count Luis Quintanilla. Audrey wore a silk polka dot evening gown from the 1973 S/S collection by André Laug (From the Tumblr account “The Fashion of Audrey”).
Just two years passed after the initial presentation of the feminine tuxedo, which had inspired the path toward a more masculine cut. But the world and Italy had since changed and in the face of political aggravation and social conflicts (from 1977 to 1980 the Red Brigade intensified its terroristic acts blaming magistrates, journalists and businesses), fashion reacted with a romantic voluptuousity that sought to soften lines on all fronts.
On December 16, André Laug passed away suddently from a heart attack in Rome; he was just 53 years old. The fashion world mourned the loss of their beloved “Parisian of Rome” who, against radical extravagance, had worked to bring the allure of sophistication, elegant structured designs and classic French influence to the world of haute couture.
The United States were the point of reference for atelier André Laug: flowy pants, gold and silver accets, that bring back memories of the Cotton Club in America, even influences from the Jazz period with plenty of lace. The collection was well received, resulting in a boom of transatlantic orders.