There is a special place in my heart for books. Libraries and bookstores are some of my favorite places to hangout. Time spent paging through books always leads to an interesting discovery. Never once have I been disappointed by spending time in the stacks. Today, I was setting aside some books for a course that I’m teaching. I wasn’t sure what I would find in the library, but wanted to have a few good resources on reserve for my students. I pulled a lot of books I’m familiar with. There was one I came cross that I’d never heard of before: The Fashion Makers by Barbara Walz and Bernadine Morris. I started flipping through, and then there she was:
Pauline Trigère at her home, La Tortue! Last year, I was lucky enough to find a dress by Trigère. It started my fascination with the designer. (New to my site? Please take a moment to read these previous posts)
Pauline Trigère (1908-2002) was born in Paris and became an iconic fashion designer in Post War America. Her mother was a dressmaker and her father a tailor who had made military uniforms for Russian aristocrats. Trigère learned quickly from her parents, and designed her first dress as a teenager. She never sketched her designes, but worked by draping right on the mannequin.
Trigère moved to New York in 1937 with her husband Lazar Radley, their two sons, her mother, her brother Robert. Trigère first worked at Ben Gershel, and later assisted Travis Banton at Hattie Carnegie. After getting fired from Hattie Carnegie, Trigère and her brother Robert decided to start their own business.
Trigère builds quite a brand in America. So what is all this turtle business? The turtle becomes a a major element of the Trigère brand as time goes on. Robert gave her a small turtle talisman when they first started the business. Then, Trigère started to see them everywhere. The turtle became a hallmark of her line.
She named her country estate in Westchester County, New York, La Tortue (The Turtle) because there were three turtles sunning themselves on a little rock when she first saw it. A collection of well over nine hundred turtles fashioned in gold, silver, needlepoint, crystal and other materials adorned the estate. In each collection, Trigere designed a garment with a turtle print.
I actually have a scarf by Trigère that depicts a turtle. The best part? If you look closely at the photo of Trigère, she is wearing a shirt and scarf of the same design. My scarf is black and red, although other colors were available.