Jacques Fath was born in Maison-Lafitte, a town just outside Paris in France, in 1912. His father was Flemish/Alsation and his mother partly British. Jacques's grandfather Rene Fath's mother had been a couturier to the Empress Eugenie in Victorian times.
Fath's parents tried to curb his artistic leanings and sent him to business school, where he studied bookkeeping. His first job was in a stockbroker's office and subsequently he entered military service. After his discharge from the army, he attended drama school and started designing for the theatre.
In 1937, Jacques opened his salon in two rooms so small that customers and mannequins alike spilled out into the courtyard. His first collection was just 20 garments. But in 2 years he was acknowledged one of the most promising of the young designers. He managed to keep his house open in Paris during the German occupation of 1940 to 1944.
After the war he understood the untapped potential of the American market. In 1948 he contracted with a 7th Avenue, New York, ready-to-wear manufacturer Joseph Halpert to design two collections every year of dresses and suits. Throughout his career, he was a popular designer in America, where his lighthearted and witty clothes were welcomed.
Several leading designers have worked at Fath's salon, including Gerard Pipart, Herbert Kasper (in the late 40's) and Hubert de Givenchy from 1945 to 1949.
Fath was famous for his hourglass shapes, plunging necklines, tiny waists and full skirts. To some extent an unsung hero of fashion he anticipated the style of dress which in 1947 became Dior's ""New Look"" His garments created on soft lines with curving, simple, structured shapes.
In the late 40's, he did an American collection for mass-production, and kept the sexy - though never vulgar - sophistication which the young people of that time wanted.
Credit is also given Fath for introducing stockings with Chantilly lace tops. His Playboy-bunny look of 1950 was rather a shock, evening dresses showing nothing but skin and cleavage between a strapless décolletage and a wing-collared choker. His clothes were sometimes considered risqué, but they appealed to a young, highly sophisticated clientele.
He dressed many of the most glamorous women of the 50's, such as Rita Hayworth who married Aly Khan. He made her wedding dress and trousseau.
He designed the most fabulously elegant clothes in Genevieve, featuring tweeds tailored like silk, worn by actress Kay Kendall.
Fath worked directly with the fabric, draping it on a mannequin himself. His clothes are masterpieces in the display of movement. Diagonal lines, sometimes accented by buttons, cut across his suits and dresses. Angled collars and pockets, slanting or zigzagging skirts, bustles or fans jutting out from skintight dresses, tucks, tiers and knife sharp pleats all contributed to the kinetic quality of his clothes.
Although known as a superb and inventive colorist, his shades of silvered amethyst, gray pin, pale green, ruby and red display his clothes marvelously.
He died at the height of activity in 1954 and his wife Genevieve tried to continue designing. The first collection after his death was accepted very well, but she did not have the heart to continue and closed the house in 1956.
From 1957 till 1992 the house of Fath only continued for Perfumes. However in 1996, it was purchased by the Banque Saga Group, who re-opened the house. They appointed Dutch designer Tom van Lingen as chief designer initially. However, in 1997 New York designer, Elena Nazaroff, who is Russian, took over the artistic direction.