Pauline Trigere is remembered for being not just a designer of women’s clothing, but a fabric artisan. Born in 1909 France, Trigere gathered practical textile training from her parents’ tailoring shop, harvesting the ability to operate a sewing machine by the age of 10. After graduating from the College Victor Hugo, Trigere found employment at the Parisian couture house of Martial et Armand as a trainee cutter. While there, she met American designer Adele Simpson, who hypnotized Trigere with words of the New York fashion world. In 1937, Trigere stepped onto the concrete streets of ‘The Big Apple’, first working with Ben Gerschel and later became assistant designer at Hattie Carnegie.
It is worthless to discuss fashion of the 40’s — ‘The War Years’ — without first gaining an appreciation for the dictation social trends had on the industry. Prior to World War II, New York fashion designers crossed the Atlantic Ocean to attend the flamboyant and opulent French fashion shows, then returning to the States to inject the latest Parisian haute couture into their designs. However, with the German occupancy in Paris and the domination of the Atlantic by United States battleships during the War, New York designers were cut from the Parisian market. As the American industry was shocked by the disappearance of oversea influence and inspiration, Trigere successfully shared her ability to combine an inherent French elegance and American practicality. In 1942, with a collection of just 12 dresses, Trigere opened her own fashion house — House of Trigere — managed by her brother Robert. The collection was taken to national department store buyers, and by 1945, Trigere was a respected New York label.
During the 40s, Trigere women’s suits and coats were recognized by the designer’s impeccable and imaginative tailoring. She made use of all weights of wool, from sheer crepes for evening wear to thick tweed. Trigere was celebrated as an innovator of fashions — evening dresses made of wool or cotton, reversible coats and capes in varying shapes and sizes, and a luxurious touch of fur trim at necklines, cuffs and hems. As the 60s approached, Trigere began to use more print and softer fabrics, yet her clothing retained her signature tailored touch and unmistakable femininity.
Trigere was known to repeat and perfect her most successful themes. For example, her princess-line dress has consistently been considered to render no equal, and her rhinestone bra top, first introduced in 1967, was revived in 1985 and again in 1992. Throughout the evolution of the fashion industry during the six decades her constant commitment to excellent design and workmanship kept her in business, Trigere worked within the mainstream while retaining her signature style — a simple elegance and timelessness.
Pauline Trigere at A R C H I V E :