His clothes are structured but never rigid and rely on the craftsmanship of careful detail. Many of his designs contain an element of fantasy. He has a casual approach to opulent fabrics, successfully blending them with less expensive materials, for example flannel trimmed with rhinestones, quilted ticking cotton with chiffon, or jersey with taffeta.
He has done much to blur the difference between sportswear and other clothes, like his strapless Grecian draped tennis frocks, or jogging clothes with glittering piping. He makes rich and imaginative clothes and shows his creativity by designing with a relaxed elegance.
From his high-priced couture collections, to his lower priced Beene Boutique and Bazaar lines, as well as his Beene Bag sportswear line, he offers flexible wardrobes of inter-related pieces. His colours can be bright and bracing like red, or earthy and subtle.
He is resistant to fame and publicity. After half a century in fashion, he reserves his energies for his aesthetic vision, one that changes from year to year, yet remains true to his own fundamentals.
In the year 2000, the city of New York decided to honour American fashion designers by placing bronze plaques along 7th Avenue, the great street of fashion in New York. This has been called the "FASHION WALK OF FAME." Geoffrey Beene was one of those honoured, and here is a picture of his plaque.
In January 2003, Geoffrey was interviewed, and lamented that girls legs were not as visible as they once were, due to the habit everywhere of wearing pants and jeans. He said he misses seeing legs.
Even though Geoffrey stays out of the fashion circus, he had all the New York trends in his Spring/Summer 2004 collection shown during New York fashion week in September 2003. He had stark black and white, brief bolero jackets and a version of raw finish where edges overlapped elegantly, proving that a great designer always remains current. A timeline of his life: 1927 Geoffrey Beene was born Samuel Albert Bozeman Jr. In Haynesville, Louisiana, USA. He later changed his name.
1943 He graduated from High School and got a scholarship to Tulane College pre-medical programme.
1945 He was to have joined the University of Southern California, but instead joined I. Magnin department store in Los Angeles, in the display department.
1947 Beene moved to New York and studied at the Traphagen School of Fashion for one year.
1948 He went to Paris, attending the Academie Julian, and l'Ecole de la Syndicate d'Haute Couture, as well as working for Edward Molyneux, the great designer. In Paris he saw French haute couture collections and was stunned by the wit and use of colour of the clothes of Elsa Schiaparelli.
1951 He returned to New York and worked for Samuel Winston, then was head designer at Harmay, a dress house on 7th Avenue.
1959 He joined Teal Traina, a major garment house.
1962 Geoffrey Beene set up his own house on 2nd Avenue in New York and showed his first collection in 1963. A dress from this first collection was on the cover of Vogue, Jean Shrimpton the top model of the day, was shown wearing his beaded top and white gabardine skirt.
He gained a reputation for high-waisted, braid-edged empire line dresses, simple shifts and dresses made from a T-line shape.
He was one of the first US designers to show short skirts with long coats.
1964 Geoffrey Beene won the first of 8 Coty awards as well as the Cotton Council Award.
1965 He won the Neiman Marcus award.
1966 He brought grey flannel and wool jersey fabrics to ballroom gowns.
1967 He showed dresses printed in a houndstooth plaid inset with undulating bands of lace, a fresh approach that invigorated the use of lace. He also attracted much attention with a long black evening dress constructed like a cassock and worn with a Cure (priest) hat.
1968 Beene designed his "Mafia" collection, pin-striped suits which he dubbed "Alice Capone" as a joke, referring to the gangster Al Capone. Also makes some sequined evening gowns with football numbers down the front, shown on the left.
1969 Beene introduced his first menswear collection.
1971 He introduced his Beene bag collection, a less expensive, sportier line which was a big success.
1975 He launched his Grey Flannel mens fragrance. He won the Marshall Field Distinction of Design Award.
1976 Beene was the first American designer to show his collections in Milan, Italy.
1987 He launched his Bowling Green mens fragrance.
1988 To celebrate 25 years , he gave a fashion show to benefit AIDS projects in Los Angeles, called "25 years of Discovery".
In the same year, he showed his first collection in Munich, Germany. He received the Designers of America Special Award for Fashion as Art.
1989 Beene opened his retail shop on 5th Avenue in New York.
1992 He received the Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design.
1993 He won the Silver Slipper Award for exceptional creativity in fashion, from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas.
1994 Honoured with a Retrospective exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. His book "Unbound" received Award of Excellence by Costume Council of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and he also scored first on creative innovation and long term value by the Fashion Group.
1995 Nominated as Designer of the Century and Beyond by the Fashion Group International.
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