Lacroix with Jeanine Ouvrard, the première d'atelier flou.
Following Christian Lacroix's breakthrough Haute Couture collection for Jean Patou for spring 1985 (he became design director there in 1981), his staring role in the couture was established. With the pouf dresses from that collection being widely copied and drastically changing the evening silhouette, Lacroix's work at Patou was known for an exuberance and love of fantasy that represented an ebullient reaction to the masculine tailoring of the mid-1980s. A month after he presented the spring 1987 Jean Patou Haute Couture collection in January 1987, Lacroix announced he was setting up his own couture house with the backing of Bernard Arnault. In the midst of legal wranglings (Patou sued Lacroix and Arnault, later winning $2 million), Lacroix had to prepare his first eponymous collection to premier at the winter Haute Couture week in July. The Paris-based Iranian photographer Abbas had photographed the Jean Patou shows and struck up an easy friendship with Lacroix, which allowed him to document the creation of this first collection — and reveal some of the stress and perfectionism that went into a collection that was excitedly described by Bernadine Morris in the New York Times as, "With his first collection under his own name, Christian Lacroix has been catapulted into fashion's hall of fame. Like Christian Dior exactly 40 years ago, he has revived a failing institution, the haute couture, or made-to-order branch of French fashion. He has done it with verve, whimsy and a youthful air."
Below are some of the images Abbas took in Lacroix's studio from February to July 1987, while the 36-year-old designer worked feverishly on his folkloric debut.
Christian Lacroix with fashion public relations guru Jacques Picart, who was the third partner in Lacroix's new company.