Fashion designer Lapidus dies

December 31, 2008
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Designer Ted Lapidus, who democratised couture in he 1960s, died in Nice yesterday aged 79.

Lapidus, the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant, set up his couture house in Paris in 1951 and in 1963 became a member of La Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the organisation which governs haute couture in France. During the 1960s, his then innovative concept of “unisex dressing” put men and women in culotte suits, braided and brass buttoned military jackets and sand-coloured safari suits, and made him one of the highest profile designers of the period.

Hailed by President Nicholas Sarkozy as “the man who democratised French elegance and classicism . . . and made fashion accessible to men and women in the street”, he also infuriated the couture world by his mass-production of designer fashion, pressaging the diffusion ranges which would become the saviour of many design houses.

Lapidus, who died of respiratory failure after a long battle with leukaemia, was succeeded in 1982 at the head of the firm by his son, Olivier, who moved the focus of the house to accessories and fragrance.

Lapidus was part of a cadre of Jews who were persecuted during the war and later became leading designers. Others included Daniel Hechter and Sonia Rykiel.

    Last updated: 2:14pm, December 31 2008