Louis Feraud, 79, the French fashion designer who came to prominence when he began designing for actress Brigitte Bardot in the 1950s, died Dec. 28 at his home here. He had Alzheimer's disease.
He made a niche for himself with bright, graphic clothes that ranged from fairly conservative suits to wild fandango-ruffled, Spanish-style dresses. In the 1970s, Mr. Feraud's reputation continued to grow, aided by the introduction of his menswear collection in 1975. The success of perfumes such as "Justine," his first scent for women, and "Corrida," for men, confirmed his preeminence in Parisian fashion.
As much artist as couturier, he started out with boyhood sketches and kept on throughout most his life painting stylish nudes, landscapes and flowers that were exhibited and sold in Paris and New York. Over the years, he had a number of important exhibitions, including several at the Grand Palais and New York's Urban Gallery, as well as shows of paintings and silks in France.
His clever and amusing black-and-white geometrics and graphics often went directly into his outfits, and some of his most beautiful, luminous scarves were his own colorful designs.
"What I always wanted to do was please women," he once said with a wink.
Mr. Feraud, who was born in Arles in southern France, was the son of a baker. He always loved the sunny south of his origins, its exuberant colors and easygoing lifestyle. The colors of Provence influenced his optimistic palette and his approach to design.
In the late 1940s, he moved to Cannes, France, to become a painter, later founding a couture shop there in 1954.
His first overwhelming success came in 1955, when Bardot walked in and purchased a girlish, white pique sun dress.
"Photographers and journalists followed her," he once said. "Within a week, every woman up and down the Cote d'Azur was wearing my little white dress. We sold 500 of them in a matter of days."
He and his then-wife, Zizi, took their booming business to Paris. "We were scared to death," he wrote in his autobiography.
In 1956, they found a shop, workshop and apartment in a very convenient location--directly opposite the Elysee Palace, the French presidential residence.
They were visited by film stars including Ingrid Bergman, Elizabeth Taylor and Kim Novak. They presented their first haute couture collection in 1958, in a group that included Dior, Givenchy and Lanvin.
In the 1960s, Mr. Feraud divorced Zizi and was married briefly to Mia Fonssagrives, the daughter of photographer Irving Penn. But Zizi stayed around as the most important right-hand woman of the house, until their daughter Kiki learned the business some years later.
In the late 1950s and 1960s, Mr. Feraud expanded, showing on runways in Japan, the United States, Britain and South America. In 1970, he became a partner of the German firm Fink for a ready-to-wear line widely considered to be very high quality.
Mr. Feraud's awards included the coveted Golden Thimble prize for excellence in couture in 1978 and 1984. He was named an officer of the French Legion of Honor in 1994.
Since his retirement in 1995, his business had been run by his daughter Kiki, his former wife Zizi and colleagues.