–I was so saddened to hear about the passing of a true American design icon- Geoffrey Beene, at the age of 77. I initially met Mr. Beene in the 70’s, when I was an assistant fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar…I fortunately went on to become his editor when I assumed the responsibilites that go along with the title, Fashion Editor.
He was always a soft spoken, low- keyed, gentleman (with a wicked sense of humor), a singular and individual voice, with a truly perfectionist attention to detail and one of the most truly consistent design forces in American and global fashion. Idolized, followed, and revered, he was continually referenced (a nice way to say, ‘copied’) by many fashion designers, both young and old.
His amazing influence is ALWAYS felt and seen (gloves? Geoffrey Beene…boleros? Geoffrey Beene….the mix of high and low, whimsy and elegance? Geoffrey Beene…Sportswear mixed with couture? Geoffrey Beene….’Beene there…done that!’) and this past New York Fashion Week for spring 2005 was no exception. Though many in the business site names of younger, more ‘hip’ names like Miuccia Prada, Marc Jacobs, Nicolas Guesquiere, Olivier Theyskens, etc., as the forces to reckon with, I always feel the amazing influence of Geoffrey Beene (he was was ‘hip’– make no mistake about it) in terms of purity of line, shape, and proportion. He had the ability to create elegantly refined, clothing that nonetheless always looked modern and youthful and never had even a hint of the dowdy (which is no easy feat if you take a look at the kinds of overly staid ladylike clothes which are far too literal and referential these days). He was also one of the first to use humble fabrics like burlap in the same way as the finest imported French silks and satins.
Quite frankly, there is very little I can sum up in a sentence, paragraph, or column, which does justice to the man or his legacy. But last April, I
interviewed him for Fashionlines, click here to read (I am their New York Editor) and it is an interview I was then and still am very proud of, an interview which I feel captures his essence, his philosophy and his views. One of the most memorable quotes, (which has particular relevance now as we are in the middle of the Spring 2005 Collections, and the idea of ‘new, new, new’ seems to be on many a fashion pro’s mind)is his assessment,”It’s not what’s new that’s important, it’s what is ‘good’ that counts.”
– Marilyn Kirschner