15 August 2011

Hélène Rochas dies aged 84.

Hélène Rochas, the former CEO of the house of Rochas, has died aged 84.

Rochas’ husband Marcel founded the couture house in 1925 and on his death in 1955 his wife Hélène, who was not yet 30, took charge of the business. Over the next fifteen years, she transformed the couture house into a multimillion dollar label, primarily through the addition of fragrances like ‘Madame Rochas’ and ‘Eau de Rochas’.

Hélène ran Rochas until 1971, when she sold it for a reported $40 million, returning in 1980 as a fragrance consultant. Her influence over the brand continued through to its most recent incarnation with Olivier Theyskens’ appointment as creative director between 2002 and 2006, with him citing her as one of his inspirations.

Marcel Rochas met his future wife on the Paris metro in 1942. She was studying acting at the time, but he asked her to be a hat model for Rochas ‘because he didn't think I was old or elegant enough to model his dresses ’, she said in an interview with people in 1980. ‘I was very vexed’.

A Rochas spokesperson said that Hélène’s death marked ‘the end of a myth, of an era… She was the muse of one of the great couturiers, the last to remain alive from that era.’

Very sad indeed.

- Alex Butt


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