Haitian designer Fabrice Simon symbolized the excess style of the 80’s with his extravagantly beaded gowns

Fabrice Simon, simply known as Fabrice, was a Haitian designer who came to America in 1964 and created a splash on the fashion scene in the 80’s with his elaborately sequined and beaded pieces. His style epitomized the lifestyle of excess that dominated the decade with his hand sewed and painted clothing. Fabrice studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology and later won a COTY award for his work. His clothes graced the backs of socialites and celebrities alike: some of his biggest clientele were Beverly Johnson, Ivana Trump, and Iman. Fabrice died of AIDS in 1998 at the age of 47.

At first he both painted and sewed all the clothes. Then a few years later his sister, Brigitte, brought a piece of beaded embroidery from Haiti to New York and asked him to fashion it into a dress. ”I was intrigued by the idea,” Mr. Simon was quoted as saying in a 1983 article in The New York Times, ”and I designed a very simple blouse with a star-burst pattern and had it embroidered in Haiti in copper beads.” The result pleased Mr. Simon, who then commissioned Haitian beaders and embroiderers to execute his designs. His timing was superb. It was 1980, and elaborately beaded clothes seemed to be just what the newly rich were hungering for.

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