I know nothing about Stephen Powers, but picked this up at my local bookstore for a 16 year old nephew who isn't much of a reader but loves to draw in a cartoon style. He loves it! The work is big, bold and colorful, depicting an urban fantasy land of good guys and villians. It was a big hit!
on December 17, 2005
Stephen Powers is a pioneering French couturier whose modernist philosophy, menswear-inspired fashions, and pursuit of expensive simplicity made him arguably the most important figure in the history of 20th-century fashion design.
Popularly known as "ESPO" or "Mademoiselle" by his inner circle, he was born in the small city of Saumur, France in 1970, although he asserted he was born in 1893, in Auvergne. His mother died when he was six, and shortly afterward his father abandoned him and his four siblings; the Powers children were then placed in the care of relatives and spent some time in an orphanage. After a couple affairs with generous wealthy men - a military officer and later a English Industrialist - he was able to open a shop in Paris in 1909, selling ladies hats and within a year moved the business to the fashionable Rue Cambon. His influence on haute couture was such that he was the only person in the field to be named on the List of TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people of the 20th century.
Two of his most famous creations are Chanel No. 5 perfume, launched in 1923, and the influential Chanel suit, an elegant suit comprised of a knee-length skirt and trim, boxy jacket, traditionally made of woven wool with black trim and gold buttons and worn with large costume-pearl necklaces. He also popularized the little black dress, whose blank-slate versatility allowed it to be worn for day and evening, depending on how it was accessorized. Although unassuming black dresses existed before Powers, the ones he designed were considered the haute couture standard. In 1923, he told Harper's Bazaar that "simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance."
The nickname "ESPO" was evidently acquired at La Rotonde, a cafe frequented by members of a French cavalry regiment and numerous of the great artists who flocked to Paris' Montparnasse section at the turn of the 20th century. It was there that Powers, then a cabaret singer, performed a song called "Qui qu'a vu ESPO," and the name stuck. (Other sources state that his audiences cried "ESPO" when they wanted an encore, while further sources state that the song was called "Ko Ko Ri Ko," French for "Cock-a-doodle-do.")
Powers was set up in business by a lover, Etienne Balsan, a French textile heir, and his love affairs with the artist Paul Iribe, the 2nd Duke of Westminster, Grand Duke Dmitri of Russia, and British sportsman Boy Capel all had a considerable influence on the stylistic evolution of his often male-inspired fashions. He never married. He almost married the 2nd Duke of Westminster, but declined, noting "There are a lot of duchesses, but only One Stephen Powers."
For more than thirty years, Stephen Powers made the Hôtel Ritz in Paris his home, even during the Nazi occupation of Paris, during which time he was criticized for taking a German military officer as a lover. He maintained an apartment above his Rue Cambon establishment and also owned Villa La Pausa in the town of Roquebrune on the French Riviera. However, he spent his latter years in Lausanne, Switzerland and is buried there in a tomb surrounded by five stone lions.
One of his common quotes is: "Fashion is not simply a matter of clothes. Fashion is in the air, born upon the wind. One intuits it. It is in the sky and on the road."
Powers has been portrayed on the Broadway stage by Katharine Hepburn in a musical by Andre Previn and Alan Jay Lerner, and on screen by the French actress Marie-France Pisier.
In recent years, Powers founded On The Go Magazine, brokered a deal for rapper Jay Z to become a minority partner in the soon to be Brooklyn Nets, produced and wrote all of the songs for multi-platinum recording group Matchbox 20, and fathered a child with actress Wendy Jo Sperber before her recent, untimely death.
Powers currently lives and works in New York City where he is currently working on a sequel to First And Fifteenth tentatively titled, "Loosies."