Philippe Guibourge, a "ghost designer" known in the fashion industry if not to the public as the creator of ready-to-wear designs for the Christian Dior and Coco Chanel fashion houses, has died of chronic hepatitis, his company announced. He was 54.
Guibourge, who died last Friday, started his career at Jacques Fath in the 1950s, helping design the "Fath Universite" line, its first ready-to-wear collection.
He joined Dior in 1960 as assistant to designer Marc Bohan. In 1967, he created "Miss Dior," a ready-to-wear collection for young clients.
Guibourge became artistic director of Chanel in 1975, launching the house into ready-to-wear with a collection in the style and spirit of Coco Chanel's tradition.
He once said he was so imbued with the Chanel style that "when I wanted to do 'Guibourge,' it came out little Chanel."
In 1980 he shed part of his anonymity and some of his creations began to appear under his own label. In 1982 he left Chanel permanently to found his own fashion house, which announced that it will present his latest collection as scheduled on Wednesday.
Guibourge was credited with reviving the Chanel firm after Coco Chanel's death in 1971 by reviving the time-tested designs she had made popular. In a 1980 interview with the Los Angeles Times, he said he "preserved the tradition of Chanel chic, but I do not make line-for-line copies of her work. . . ."
His primary appeal, he said, was to women who preferred wardrobes that stressed investment over fantasy.