Main Bocher’s Mark on American Fashion

By Phineas Upham

Main Rosseau Bocher opened a boutique on 12 Avenue George V in Paris in November of 1929. At the time, Bocher wanted to design elegant fashions for expensive tastes. He decided to combine his name, as a nod to fellow designers like Louiseboulanger, when he opened his fashion house “Mainbocher”.

He was lead designer for Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor. It’s said that he named the color “Wallis Blue” after her. He also designed the wedding dress for the marriage of Simpson and Edward VIII, which was historically one of the most historic dresses ever made. That wedding dress came to define the modern wedding dress, and is currently catalogued in the Metropolitan Museum collection.

In 1940, Mainbocher came to New York and relocated next to Tiffany’s on 57th St. By then, Mainbocher had developed an international following so his fashion was well accepted in New York at the time. At the time, Mainbocher had become embroiled in controversy for pushing the corset on women. It highlighted the female form in a manner never done before.

The Warner Brothers Corset Company, however, didn’t seem to mind the controversy. They moved quickly to try and mass produce the line. Mainbocher also designed uniforms for women in the Navy during the Second World War. In 1947, when the New York Dress Institute revealed its “Best Dressed” list, eight of the top ten were clients of Mainbocher.

Mainbocher is immortalized in New York’s legendary garment district. He was awarded a bronze plaque, but passed in 1976.


About the Author: Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phineas Upham website or Facebook page.

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