Manuel Pertegaz: Fashion designer whose clients included Kennedy, Hepburn, Gardner and the future Queen Letizia


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The Independent Online

Manuel Pertegaz was a highly sought-after fashion designer who dressed stars such as Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn and Ava Gardner. In 2003 he was asked to design Letizia Ortiz's wedding dress for her marriage to the future king of Spain, Crown Prince Felipe. The royal bride's long-sleeved, ivory wedding gown had a 14-foot train.

Pertegaz was born in 1917 in Olba in Spain, his family moving to Barcelona when he was a few years old. He got his first job at a tailors in the city at the age of 13, and not long after joined the Angulo team of tailors, and when the group opened a small womenswear section, he discovered that his true vocation.

Before long he was making his first designs, trying them out his creations on female friends and members of his family. He opened his first shop when he was 25 and by the 1960s he was widely regarded as as Spain's leading couturier, employing 700 in his Madrid and Barcelona showrooms. Among his early clients were the wife and daughter of the dictator General Franco.

He made his first trip to the US in 1953, presenting his collection in New York, Boston, Atlanta and Philadelphia. He was once asked to succeed Christian Dior as head of the House of Dior but chose to stay in Spain instead.

José Ignacio Wert, Spain's education and culture minister, released a statement in tribute, saying that to think of Pertegaz was "to think of elegance."

"I design from the heart," Manuel told the New York Times in 1964. "One cannot predict fashion. It is youth, with its carefree attitude, that sets the mark."

Manuel Pertegaz, fashion designer: born Olba, Spain 1917; died Barcelona 30 August 2014.