Born Agnes Trouble in 1941 in Versailles, France, she was brought up in the “Alice-band” bourgeois area of Versailles. She graduated from École des Beaux-Arts in Versailles. A career soon followed when her personal style caught the eyes of ELLE magazine staffers at a Paris flea market. Her style of dress at the time, which included selections from France’s Monoprix discount chain, was inspired less by fashion than thrift, but the magazine liked what it saw and hired her as a junior editor at the age of 17. With a mind towards designing rather than editing fashion, she left ELLE after less than two years, preferring apprenticeships even when they paid little and offered no time off. Agnes married Christian Bourgois in 1958 from whom she was later divorced. She married Jean Rene Claret de Fleurieu in 1980. She has five children from her two marriages. She became a designer, buyer, and press attaché for Dorothée Bis in Paris. Since 1964 she freelance designed for Limitex, Pierre d’Alby, V de V, and Eversbin. In 1966, she started her own company CMC, parent of the agnes b. label, and she opened her first boutique in Les Halles in 1975, where her affordable, relaxed, wearable clothes catered to a wide age group. Many of her early designs were adapted from French workers uniforms. Formerly a butcher shop, the black and white tiled store had a rustic, communal atmosphere, defined by an indoor swing for children and an impromptu aviary (in reality an on-site bird population that over time grew from two to 30). Agnes’s friends were her first repeat customers. Agnes started designing menswear in 1981 after observing men appropriate clothes designed for women. She opened her first international store on Prince Street in New York’s SoHo district in 1983. Her enthusiasm for the city stemmed from her love of the American crime film genre, dubbed film noir in France. This interest extended to the store’s decor, which included vintage, oversized movie posters. The one-sheets would eventually draw the attention of filmmaker Harmony Korine, who would begin an artistic collaboration with agnes in 1999. Agnes b. launched “Le B Perfume” in 1987, a skincare and cosmetics line. Over time, her designs would grow to include maternity wear, shoes, and bags. Additionally, agnes b. has designed watches and eyewear for Seiko and a beauty line for L’Oréal. She has shops in London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Los Angeles, with more to open in Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, and Singapore. Agnes b. founded a joint film concern with Korine called O’Salvation, under whose banner Korine began production on Mister Lonely in London in 2006. She also designated an entity for personal projects, christened Love Streams, with the blessing of Gena Rowlands, widow of John Cassavetes who directed the 1984 film of the same name. Her acts of film patronage include the supplying of completion funds to Gaspar Noé for Irréversible (2002) and Claire Denis for Trouble Every Day (2001), as well as the underwriting of numerous film festivals. Now she is head of a cult fashion empire, mother of 5 and grandmother of another 5. Her life in Paris is a multi-dimensional mix of cultures, cuisine, art and cinema. She has shops in London, Amsterdam, Tokyo and New York although her atelier and headquarters are in the Republique area of Paris, a gritty working class area East of the city. Her home is in the Paris suburbs. She specializes in separates, notably a snap button cardigan. Much of the charm of her clothes lies in the fact that they have a worn-in look. She creates simple and chic collections season after season.
Agnes B strikes a commercial and creative balance – a radical chic.
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