The French fashion designer, Ted Lapidus, the man who made the safari suit and jeans the height of elegance in the 1960s, has died aged 79.
M. Lapidus, born in Paris into a family of Russian emigre tailors, was best-known for creating a “unisex” style of clothes suitable for both men and women. His high profile clients in the 1960s and 1970s included the actors Brigitte Bardot and Alain Delon. He died of respiratory problems in hospital in Cannes on Monday.
President Nicolas Sarkozy paid tribute to him today as a “man who was always at the forefront of modernity” and the designer who had, for the first time, made high fashion “available to the man and woman on the street”.
Born Edmond Lapidus in Paris on 23 June 1929, Ted Lapidus opened his own fashion house in 1958 and was admitted in 1964 into the prestigious haute couture association, “La Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne”.
He made his name by introducing a military look, but also a safari-look, into haute couture. He was the first designer to put a military-style shoulder strap on both men’s and women’s jackets. He is also credited with making blue jeans – previously an anti-fashion statement – part of the repertory of modern fashion design.
From the late 1970s, as his haute-couture business declined, Ted Lapidus branched out into fashion accessories, such as perfumes and watches. A high-profile legal row with his son, Olivier, over the use of the Lapidus name was eventually resolved amicably. Oliver Lapidus took over the Ted Lapidus label in 1989 but the haute-couture side of the business was dissolved in 2000.
“We never really fought,” Olivier Lapidus said today. “There was just a problem having two people called Lapidus in the fashion business. We loved each other very much. Today a son mourns a father.”
President Sarkozy said that Ted Lapidus was an “artist” who had successfully transferred his talent from clothes to perfumes and watches and became a “symbol of France’s creative genius”.