AUGUSTA BERNARD







Augusta Bernard was born in Provence, France in 1886. She started her atelier in Biarritz, moving to Paris in 1922. She linked her first and last names together, to avoid confusion with other houses with similar names.

Throughout the 20's, she made slim, long, bias-cut evening dresses in pale, moonlit colours. Her clients, many of them Americans, liked her simple dresses which were an exquisite backdrop for their jewels.

By 1930 her reputation had been well established, when the Marquise de Paris, one of the best dressed women in France, won the Concours d'Elegance in St. Moritz, wearing a decollete Augustabernard gown of molten silver lame. Two years later in 1932, her neo-classical evening gown was chosen by VOGUE as the most beautiful gown of the year. Her reputation rested on a dramatic and up-to-the-moment personal style. She did not care if her salon at 3, rue du Faubourg St. Honore was furnished unfashionably or if her clients found her on her knees fitting the hemline of one of her "grand simple" gowns. Decoration was achieved by the material itself, scarves floating at the shoulder or hip, flounces, scalloped tiers, or tucks applied in a neck-to-hem spiral. She avoided elaborate embroidery used by other couturiers.

Lillian Farley, Mainbocher's assistant at Paris VOGUE (who modelled for Lucile and Patou) said "Augusta Bernard came from one of the country provinces and she looked like a young countrywomen even to the colour of her cheeks. Her curly brown hair was combed back in a knot and she wore simple day clothes, often a tweed suit with a V-neck blouse and attached scarves.

During the 30's there was a great interest in classical greek art, and this sculptural form and long floating line of Augustabernard's evening dresses was captured by photographer Man Ray in 1934.

However, as the depression of the 30's deepened, her clients ordered her clothes but many did not pay their bills. Although there was no reduction in business, she closed down and retired in 1934 presumably for financial reasons.


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