Born: Brittany in 1945. Family: Married Michele Domercq, 1972; children: Richard, Giles. Career: Worked as a delivery boy, stock clerk, then financial manager for Charles Maudret wholesale ready-to-wear firm, 1964-67; formed own ready-to-wear company with Michele Aujard, 1968; firm carried by Michele after Christian's death, 1977; first freestanding boutique opened, Paris, 1978; company purchased by Société Bic, 1983; fashions manufactured and distributed by Guy Laroche, and licensed to Japan's Itokin Group. Died: 8 March 1977, in Paris.
Hyde, Nina, "Continuing the Aujard Collection," in the Washington Post, 23 September 1978.
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Palmieri, Jean E., "Barneys New York; Pioneering Designer Names for More Than Thirty Years," in DNR, 1 June 1995.
D'Aulnay, Sophie, "Alain Adjadj's Single-Minded Approach to French Retailing," in DNR, 7 August 1995.
Bow, Josephine, "The China Challenge: What it Takes to Enter Retailing in the World's Largest Potential Consumer Market," in Women's Wear Daily, 22 July 1997.
From the moment Christian Aujard premiered his first women's ready-to-wear collection in Paris, his designs were acclaimed for their youthful appeal, vibrant colors, and lively prints. The Aujard label quickly became recognized for its fresh attitude toward contemporary, updated sportswear. Aujard's first collection, directed towards the young, fashion-conscious consumer, successfully blended both classic and innovative elements into chic, wearable clothes, and thus instantly established his talent among the fashion world.
Michele Domercq, a former art student, began as Christian Aujard's designer of silks before becoming his wife and business partner. Combining her styling skills with his vision, the couple's ready-to-wear line for women took off as it was eagerly embraced by upmarket retailers, first in Europe and then in America. Aujard won acclaim for his upbeat attitude toward the tried-and-true, with youthful trench coats, blazers, trousers, pleated skirts, and shirtdresses. The clothes were tailored but relaxed, with features like elasticized waistbands and dolman sleeves that allowed ease of movement. Detailing was a focus, with interesting yokes and seams, and fagoting was a favored trim. Another Aujard hallmark was his use of natural fibers. Cotton, cashmere, linen, silk, wool tweed, crepe, and mohair—all found expression, as in his soft beige Honan silk blouson sweater and trousers of 1972.
In the 1960s and 1970s when women began to ask for access to the power traditionally enjoyed by men, designers answered with mens-wear styles for women, and Aujard's lines were no exception. But his menswear-inspired designs remained resolutely feminine, as seen in the bestselling Officer's Pantsuit. This ensemble, a double-breasted blazer over wide-legged trousers in a navy/white nautical palette, transformed the notion of an authoritative military uniform into a charming, yet provocative daytime look. Aujard also won much attention for his man-tailored oxford cloth shirts, crisp shirtdresses in dotted silk and wrinkled linen, and his double-faced beige wool wrap coat which reversed to tweed.
Women's eveningwear included elegant, refined short cocktail dresses of silk inset with bands of lace. The special domain of Michele, the silk clothes for evening were so successful she spun off a separate label under her own name. It was understood between the couple that Christian designed daywear and Michele designed eveningwear, and they often did not see each other's collections until they premiered.
Aujard ventured into men's ready-to-wear a few years after his womenswear. The collections for men featured both dress suits and casual separates, and continued the philosophy of elegant simplicity updated with youthful vigor. Vibrant, rich color, lively patterns, and prints became a signature, allowing men a wide range of fashion expression. Checks mixed with plaids and houndstooths, bright dotted patterns, and unexpected combinations created a cheerful, yet sophisticated look. In menswear, Aujard's typical attention to detail, use of fine materials, and witty attitude could be translated into a glamorous double-breasted suit of unexpected and dazzling white wool.
At the time of her husband's accidental death in March 1977, Michele took over the business and continued designing under the Christian Aujard name. At first she did not change the spirit of the Aujard collections, but by the late 1970s the lines were totally of her design. For both mens and womenswear she favored a mixture of textures and a palette of soft, saturated hues. Muted colors were chosen so that separates—jackets, sweaters, shirts, trousers, or skirts— would all coordinate. Crisp lines gave way to less constructed pieces in yielding fabrics like wool challis and satin. And while styling and managing the Aujard lines, Michele Aujard continued to oversee her own label.
The Aujard name continued to thrive as Michele invested ordinary styles with new life. For menswear she created wildly patterned waistcoats and drapy pleated pants, and she let color loose, using daring palettes considered taboo for men. She might mix violet, red, and emerald with gray, or playfully contrast textures, as in a rust tweed blazer against a persimmon satin shirt. Casual separates, such as a royal blue sport jacket over pale lemon trousers, glowed with intensity and radiated novelty, so that perceived boundaries between appropriate colors for men and women were blurred. The sweater woven with painterly motifs in brilliant color combinations also became a hallmark of Aujard.
The company's formula for success was its ability to push fashion limits while essentially remaining within the boundaries of convention. The Christian Aujard label has stood for sophisticated, affordable, and stylishly upbeat ready-to-wear clothing for men and women. On the label's longevity, French retailer Alain Adjadj told the Daily News Record (7 August 1995) sophisticated brands like Georges Rech and Christian Aujard, if marketed properly could certainly "relaunch the men's apparel business in France and [create] a worldwide boom."
updated by SydonieBenét