JOE EULA. Portrait of Pauline Trigère. Watercolor on paper, with partial sketch of unknown figure in conté crayon on verso. 318x180 mm; 12 1/2x7 inches, on 12 3/4x9 3/4-inch sheet. Signed "Eula" in lower right image. Undated. Framed.
Paris-born fashion designer Pauline Trigère was an elegant and chic symbol of the American fashion industry for more than 50 years. In the tradition of couturiers Lanvin and Chanel, Trigère did not sketch her designs, instead electing to cut and drape from bolts of fabric right on the model or mannequin. Her exquisitely draped and tailored designs were often constructed with no obvious seams, which put her clothing in high demand.
She was pioneering in not only her designs, but also in her progressive beliefs, becoming the first industry leader to employ an African American model. Despite some industry backlash over her hiring of Beverly Valdes, Trigère held firm to her convictions against racist threats.
Here, Trigère is portrayed with her signature tinted glasses and trademark turtle pin that often accented the outfits of her own design, which she wore exclusively. Turtles were so fully-integrated into her personal brand that Trigère built a vast personal collection of turtles in various forms and materials, incorporated them into many of her fabrics, and even named her country house in South Salem, New York "La Tortue" (The Turtle). "Fashion is what people tell you to wear," Trigère often said. "Style is what comes from your own inner thing."
In 1993,Trigère received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and, in 2001 she was awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor.