Born: Pays Basque region of France, 1949. Career: Assistant to Popy Moreni; freelance designer; designer, Prémonville et Dewavrin, from 1983; also freelance designer for Fiorucci; chose Michael Atchison & Associates, Inc. as the first American agency to represent her designs, 1989; opened first boutique in Paris, 1990; opened New York boutique, 1991; opened Munich boutique, 1992. Address: 52 Boulevard Richard Lenoir, 75001 Paris, France.
On de PRéMONVILLE:
Stegemeyer, Anne, Who's Who in Fashion, Third Edition, New York, 1996.
Bogart, Anne, and Leslie Cochran, "Paris: de Prémonville's Spare Chic Suits Stand Out," in WWD, 17 October 1985.
"The Young French Fashion Fever; in Paris, the Mood is All-Out Flair," in Harper's Bazaar, June 1986.
Joby, Liz, "Designing Women: Myréne de Prémonville," in Vogue (London), July 1987.
"Prémonville Tabs Exclusive Agent for U.S.," in WWD, 14 March 1989.
Voight, Rebecca, "Paris: Moving and Shaking," in WWD, 19 September 1989.
Edelson, Sharon, "Retailers Say Bridge Sales Keep Growing," in WWD, 18 September 1994.
Ozzard, Janet, "Showroom with a View," in WWD, 10 September 1997.
"Vintage Sewing Patterns—1960s to the Present," available online at the Blue Gardenia, www.thebluegardenia.com , 17 July 2001.
"Great feel, beautiful proportions, fantastic color," declared Myréne de Prémonville stockist Carole Cruvellier, whose Manchester, England, shop, de la Mode, stocks exclusively French designers. "I particularly remember a petrol blue trouser suit, with a wine cuff, that seemed to sum up her meticulous research and use of color," she said. Lucille Lewin of the Whistles shops in London, who backed the opening of Myréne de Prémonville's first British boutique in 1991, enthuses about her superb cut. She believes the clothes have a longevity that makes economic sense to the customer, always flattering, yet never trite; not classic, they are collectable for their quirky individuality.
Myréne de Prémonville began her company in the mid-1980s, with Giles Dewavrin as partner. Backed by a large finance group, the Union Normand Investissement, her first designs were a response to what she felt was not available to women at that time: effervescent, young, tailored suits in bright colors, often with witty contrasting color trims or bright check details; unexpected colored appliqués on bright white, translucent blouses; a huge, painted sunflower detail on a cream georgette mini tunic, teamed with black leggings. She even introduced her own stirrup trousers because, as she said at the time, "No one else's felt comfortable."
There is always a hint of 1950s couture in her work but never heavy or overly structured. She brings a younger, lighter, more modernistic feel to miniskirted frock coats in yellow wool, with Balenciaga-style gathered sleeves. Full skirted jackets with huge belts, reminiscent of Doris Day shirtwaists, and a pastel, deckchair-striped trouser suit looked perfect for a 1950s into 1990s St. Tropez. Very concerned with practicalities of the fashion business, de Prémonville's positions at Hermés, then at Fiorucci, strengthened her appreciation of vivid color and kitsch, both prominently combined in her designs today. She sees her customer as being practical yet artistically and intellectually aware, with a witty sense of fun, very much an extension of her own personality. This also explains why her designs are often a reaction to what she feels her wardrobe lacks.
She believes that a designer's work should evolve, rather than change radically, each season. Gradual alterations in detailing, proportion, and silhouette are the key to de Prémonville's appeal. She has looked to English eccentricity for inspiration, feeling that the French have become opposed to change and somewhat institutionalized in their dress sense. Conclusively it is the suit that emerges as the signature Myréne de Prémonville garment. Sharp, quirky, and geometric, it has been restyled and restructured for the 1980s and 1990s woman.
In March 1989, the de Prémonville firm chose designer and bridge showroom manager Michael Atchison & Associates, Inc. as the first American agency to represent its continental styles. Valued for its wide range of inventive shapes and elegant, feminine lines, the French house banked on Prémonville Studio, a restrained, fundamental suit collection, which debuted in a variety of fabrics. In 1997, Atchison spread the entire collection along with the clothing lines of youthful stylists Donald Deal, Eric Gasking, Eva Chun, and Sylvia Heisel. He anticipated that his appealing 24th-floor studio on Seventh Avenue South overlooking the Hudson River would draw $5 million worth of business from the metropolitan fashion savvy. Of his capture of a stable of young designers, Atchison exulted, "It's great. It means they're successful." He characterized customers for the Myréne de Prémonville look as "young, fashionable, Park Avenue day-into-evening."
The Vogue pattern company honored de Prémonville by including her designs in Vogue Attitudes, a selection of vintage fashions for seamstresses to sew at home. Featured along with Calvin Klein skirts and slacks, a Ralph Lauren skirt and blouse, and a Chloé dress was a de Prémonville jacket and pants outfit, pictured in op-art bold black-on-white structured jacket and understated dark pants. Vogue's Internet archive pictured de Prémonville's red and white hussar jacket as a facet of the 1987 military trend.
updated by Mary EllenSnodgrass