Pauline Trigère interview, 1979 November 13, 16, & 20
- US NNFIT SC.FITA.126.96.36.199.1.126
- 1979 November 13, 16, and 20
Part of Academic Affairs records
Robert L. Green interviews Pauline Trigère in part one. In part two, we see the different phases of garment production at Trigère, Inc. with an inside look at Mme Trigère cutting a coat and making decisions about fabrics and designs.
Three interviews 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 conversation 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. In the second interview, Trigere goes further into the topic of the American fashion designer and the relationship between French couture and American design. The beginning of the conversation covers the effects of WWII on fashion, specifically in America. Trigere returns to the story of her time working under Travis Banton at Hattie Carnegie, which leads from Banton's style to Trigere's own style. Trigere's process of creating a collection is described at length and there is some discussion of the fashion press. In addition to her design process, Trigere discusses her use of store-wide meetings and the importance of the sales team. There is some discussion of architecture, sculpture, and the modern use of space in interiors. Trigere talks about the necessity of compromise over time in regards to materials and there is a lengthy discussion about knowing the customer, and how she may differ by region. This conversation focuses on Palm Beach and ends with an acknowledgment of the power of influence and exposure. In the third interview Trigere returns to a number of topics which were briefly mentioned in the first two interviews. In particular, Trigere starts with the full story of how she became close with American fashion designer Adele Simpson. Next, she elaborates on the role of her longtime assistant, Lucie Porges. Porges and Trigere had been working together for 28 years at the time of this interview. This leads to a discussion on the role of the assistant in the fashion world and the role of the designer in guiding her assistants. Trigere, who was teaching at the Fashion Institute of Technology at the time of this interview, shares her beliefs regarding the best methods of educating future designers. Trigere's process of draping is explored along with her full creative process. In discussing the skills required to conduct proper fittings, Trigere touches on the changing couture client. A brief discussion on the art of packing and shopping for a careful wardrobe turns to a discussion on the changing economy and its effect on fashion. The recession is not explicitly mentioned but this interview did take place at the time of the oil crisis in America. In regards to authenticity, Trigere compares Parisian couture copies to American knock-offs, arguing that these are two different scenarios. Trigere's hiring of black model Beverly Valdes in 1961 is discussed in the context of 7th avenue fashion's resistance to non-white models. Before discussing her own beliefs and personal life, Trigere describes the ideal "Trigere Woman" to be an educated family woman who is dynamic and not frivolous. Trigere's personal beliefs and home life are discussed with special focus on her connection to turtles, her early life as an immigrant, family, her country house: 'La Tortue', her students, and her passion for gardening. The conversation ends with a discussion on the difficulty of keeping work and personal life separate.