This past weekend, one of the greatest Couturiers--Spanish fashion designer Manuel Pertegaz--passed away at the age of 96. Pertegaz who was known as the "Mago de la Aguja"--or "The Needle Magician". He was recognized for his elegant, simple, classic styles, perfect for the High Society women of Spain and Europe...
Princess Letizia and Crown Prince Felipe Royal Wedding, 2004--The Bride wore Manuel Pertegaz
Of his entire career spanning more than 70 years--he is now more known as the designer who created the Wedding Gown worn by Queen Letizia to her marriage to King Felipe of Spain (they were then Princess Letizia and Crown Prince Felipe).
Manuel Pertegaz: His Life
Manuel Pertegaz and model
Manuel Pertegaz was born in Olba (Tereul) in 1918. At age ten, he moved to Barcelona with his family. He opened his first boutique in Barcelona in 1942. In 1945, he presented his work to Bergdorf Goodman in NYC, exposing his designs to a wider range of American clients.
Tuxedo Designers: (L to R): Manuel Pertegaz, Pierre Cardin and Valentino in Mexico at a Gala of European Fashion in Mexico, 1962
Pertegaz opened his first boutique in Madrid in 1946. Along with the other Couturiers of the day, like Christian Dior, Balenciaga, he was known for classic, simplistic elegance. At the height of his business, he employed over 700 employees--from all the seamstresses, tailors, pattern makers, draping experts and boutique sales staff.
Actress Carmen Sevilla--wearing her Mauel Pertegaz wedding gown
During his time, he has dressed women from the wife of Dictator of Spain Francisco Franco--Carmen Polo--their daughter Maria Carmen Franco y Polo, 1st Duchess of Franco, actresses Paulette Goddard, Ava Gardner, Audrey Hepburn as well as Jacqueline Kennedy, Marisa Berenson, Queen Sofia of Spain...
Queen Sofia of Spain wearing Manuel Pertegaz in her first official visit to France
Maria Teresa Salisachs Rowe (Bibi Samaranch) , Weeding Gown by Manuel Pertegaz 1955
And Bibi Samaranch (Maria Teresa Salisachs Rowe) who was his "Muse"--she was, of course, married to Juan Antonio de Samaranch, the seventh president of the International Olympic Committee--and 1st Marquis of Samaranch
Spanish Supermodel Laura Ponte wearing one of Manuel Pertegaz' 1967 designs
During the 1960's he transitioned from Couture to Pret-a-Porter (Ready to Wear) designs which were just making a mark in the fashion world as a result of Yves Saint Laurent and his Rive Gauche line. In 1968, he opened the first of five Pret-a-Porter boutiques in Spain, making his designs more accessible to women around the world. The clothes were still expensive but not Couture expensive, of course.
Spanish Supermodel Laura Ponte in Manuel Pertegaz sequined jumpsuit--inspired by the 1969 design worn by Spanish Eurovision Winner, Salome
Sequined Fringed Diva: In 1969 he dressed Spanish singer Salome for the Eurovision Contest in a sequined ensemble that weighed 14 kilos (about 31 lbs!); She won the International singing contest.
Vogue Patterns Magazine--Pertegaz designs featured in 1968 Vogue Patterns Magazine
In the late 60's and 70's Manuel Pertegaz realized, like most fashion designers do, that to make any profit, one must do licensing--and he began putting his name to perfumes, sunglasses, purses, accessories, as well as patterns for Vogue Patterns Magazine. This all kept the brand going.
Barcelona Olympics Couture: In 1992, he dressed model Pat Cleveland--as the "Lady of the Umbrella" "Dama de las Paraguas" for the Opening Ceremony of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
More Manuel Pertegaz Fashion Highlights:
Silk Damask Wedding Gown, Manuel Pertegaz Couture 1960
Nude colored silk cocktail dress with hand-done pin-tucks and feathered neckline, Manuel Pertegaz Couture 1964
Creme colored silk chiffon cocktail dress with feathered trim--Manuel Pertegaz Couture 1966
Off-white silk organza and satin tea-length dress with sequins--Manuel Pertegaz Couture 1969
Black chiffon and satin gathered gown with Blouson Sleeves, Manuel Pertegaz 1974
One shouldered apple green silk crape gown with multicolored sequined trim, Manuel Pertegaz 1978
Among many of his accolades, Manuel Pertegaz received the:
Gold Medal of Mexico City in 1966;
Gold Medal form the City of New Orleans, 1968;
Gold Medal of Honor from the cities of Berlin and Boston, 1972;
Gold Medal to the Artistic Merit of Barcelona Townhall, 1998;
Gold Medal Antonio Gaudi, 1999;
Gold Medal of the Merit of the Beauty Arts (Medalla de Oro al Merito de las Bellas Artes), 1999.
Queen Letizia of Spain--Wedding Gown by Manuel Pertegaz, 2004
In 2004, Manuel Pertegaz is 86 years old--and this marks what some would argue as the year he would become most famous for: designing the Wedding Gown worn by the then Princess Letizia of Spain who would become Queen of Spain ten years later. The silk satin gown featured a fitted bodice that turned into an A-line shape with hand-embroidered sequined applique, high collar and long sleeves:
Queen Letizia of Spain Wedding Gown by Manuel Pertegaz, 2004
Fashion Sketch from Manuel Pertegaz of Queen Letizia of Spain's Wedding Gown, 20014
Adios to Manuel Pertegaz. RIP.