Norwegian fashion designer
Born: Oslo, Norway, 1939. Education: Studied at School of Fine Arts, Oslo, and École de la Chambre Syndicale, Paris. Career: Arrived in Paris, 1957, and joined house of Dior soon afterwards; worked as freelancer with Yves Saint Laurent and Louis Féraud; opened own house, 1977; acquired by Haifinance Corp., 1991; lost funding, 1994; produces haute couture and ready-to-wear. Awards: Golden Needle (Chambre Syndicale, Paris), 1978; Golden Thimble, 1979. Address: 6 rue François 1er, 615008 Paris, France.
McDowell, Colin, McDowell's Directory of Twentieth Century Fashion, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1985.
O'Hara, Georgina, The Encyclopaedia of Fashion, New York, 1986.
Guillen, Pierre-Yves, and Jacqueline Claude, The Golden Thimble: French Haute Couture, Paris, 1990.
Stegemeyer, Anne, Who's Who in Fashion, Third Edition, New York, 1996.
Greene, Elaine, and Bent Reg, "Coming Home to Norway," in House Beautiful, May 1988.
"Paris: C'est Tout!" in WWD, 22 July 1993.
Ramey, Joanna, "Backer Pulls the Plug on Per Spook Couture," in WWD, 27 June 1994.
"Haute Couture-Behind the Scenes," available online at www.diplomatie.fr , 5 October 2001.
"Os Negócios da Moda," online at www.centroatl.pt , 6 October 2001.
"Per Spook," online at www.afaa.asso.fr , 6 October 2001.
Per Spook came to Paris in the late 1950s after graduating from the Oslo School of Fine Arts. For him, Paris had been a lifelong ambition, the place to go for anyone wanting to work in the fashion industry. After studying at L'École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture in Paris, he embarked on a long career as an apprentice and freelance designer. Experience with revered houses like Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, and Louis Féraud gave him a taste for haute couture and the specialized fashion that created a sensation when he opened his own house at the age of 38 in 1977.
Spook clothes were instantly applauded for their new, soft shapes and color. He established a hallmark for well-cut clothes that were elegantly understated but upheld the characteristics of quality, individuality, and wearability. Distinctive innovations have been his versatile long dresses with a device allowing them to be taken up for daywear, then let down again for an evening look; his Ile de Wight dress, a square-cut white linen dress embroidered with abstract black squares; and his Crumple clothes, made from a fabric that allows the clothes to fold into a small bundle and pack away without creasing. He also likes to design versatile mix-and-match outfits that can unite to create ensembles ranging from glamorous cocktailwear to daywear.
When it comes to ready-to-wear, the ideal Spook customer has been a woman who is both realistic and practical. She is active, up to date and, with her international lifestyle and career, needs clothes that are graceful and polished but also witty and lively. With his couture clothes, Spook likes to combine his own creativity with the individual personality of a client. He recognizes that each client has a different set of needs and fantasies about how she wants to look. Even if designer and client have opposing ideas, it is always possible to create a united design.
Spook collections have often been fanciful and evoked romantic images of society lifestyles in the 1920s and 1930s. The clothes have had a strong resort feel, suggesting leisured times at Deauville or on the Lido at Venice. Figure prints on expensive crêpes and asymmetric details on crossover crêpe minidresses have been popular, as have saucy nautical stripes, abstract polka dots, and geometrics, like black-and-white checkerboard jackets or long sequin shift dresses in geometric-patterned fabrics. They evoked references to fashion icons of the past, an updated Duchess of Windsor, Marlene Dietrich, or the 1950s model Dovima.
Spook's other artistic interests are noteworthy and undoubtedly inspirational when it comes to fashion design, and his design interests have not been exclusively fashion oriented. He is an accomplished painter, sculptor, and photographer. Interiors, textiles, and product design capture his imagination and have been barometers of inspiration and observation helping form and develop his creative fashion ideas. In his career, Spook has been recognized with several fashion awards, including the Chambre Syndicale's Golden Needle and Golden Thimble awards. Ultimately, it is in couture that Spook has excelled. To a designer, haute couture is often the inventive lifeblood of the industry, where creativity is unhampered by the limitations of expense or market (unfortunately, financing has been a battle for Spook, who lost his backing in 1994).
Financed or not, Spook's approach has always been down to earth. He enjoys creating couture that combines practicality and realism with creativity and aesthetic vision—and his vision is genuinely appreciated.
updated by Mary Ellen Snodgrass