Designer Geoffrey Beene dead at 77

Sept. 28, 2004 at 4:40 PM
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NEW YORK CITY, N.Y., Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Fashion innovator Geoffrey Beene died Tuesday at his New York City home from complications of pneumonia at age 77, the New York Times reported.

The announcement of Beene's death came from Russell Nardozza, vice president of Geoffrey Beene Inc., the Times said.

Beene's designs for years were stiff and conservative with commercialism in mind, but he made a radical change in the early 1970s, turned his back on fads and began looking for lighter ways to construct clothes, the newspaper said.

His biggest achievement was to address the three-dimensional quality of individual bodies, not just a singular body type. Other designers, such as Bill Blass and Oscar de la Renta, considered Beene "a designer's designer," the Times said.

Beene was born Aug. 30, 1927, in Haynesville, La., and was expected to follow in the footsteps of his family of doctors. But he dropped out of medical school and eventually took a job at a California department store, changed his educational focus to fashion and the rest as they say, is fashion history.

Beene -- whose designs grace several museums -- has eight Coty Fashion Critics Awards; four Council of Fashion Designers of America awards, including one in 1998 for lifetime achievement, and was named Cultural Laureate by the New York Historic Landmarks Preservation Center.

He is survived by his sister, Barbara Ann Wellman of Conroe, Texas.

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