Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Terrible Tiffeau

French-born designer Jacques Tiffeau is scarcely remembered today; but in the 1960's, he was considered one of the best designers working in America. He was asked to replace Yves St. Laurent at Dior (and, in fact, had been Christian Dior's lover in the early 1950's), and gained quite a bit of publicity as the enfant terrible of Seventh Avenue -- Women's Wear Daily dubbed him "Sauvage" for his irreverent style and wicked wit.


Extraordinarily handsome and almost obsessively self-destructive, Tiffeau reveled in days centered around designing in the morning, then glamorously lunching at La Grenouille (which he almost single-handedly made fashionable), and then having anonymous sex at the bathhouses or with a hustler. A fascinating 1969 article describing a series of lunches with Tiffeau can be found here.


When Tiffeau died of lung cancer in 1988, at age 59, he was all but forgotten, and his volatile, combatative personality had long since alienated his former friends and colleagues. Famously, pathetically, he tried to betray his long-time friend Bill Blass when Blass gave the down-and-out Tiffeau a final chance to design for Blass' sports line in the late 1970's. They never spoke again.

I became fascinated by Tiffeau after reading this article in the New York Times magazine section. There is still far too little information about him out there, and I'm sorry I couldn't find a photo of the man himself to include here -- he was hauntingly, frighteningly handsome.

1 comment:

  1. I often wondered if he had something going with Dior. I didn't know about him betraying Blass. That is a shame. I thought Bill Blass was very attractive and handsome. Another great american designer passing too soon.