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Lloyd Klein has a heritage based on Haute Couture

Milestones | 1986 -1997 | The First Tango in Paris

One Newton Discovered the Theory Behind Relativity and Another Discovered Who Designed the Dress

So, after months of imagining and visualizing what he wanted to achieve, with only two weeks left before the shoot needed to take place, he sat down to finalize details. His complete attention had been focused on building his collection and although the details were formulated in his desires, he had yet to formalize anything with regard to the photoshoot assuming it was a fait accompli. His lack of experience duped him into thinking everything would easily come together. So he made his own to-do list and it started with the models. He had studied the monthly fashion books and had narrowed his pick of who he wanted to walk his runway. He deliberated for hours and finally chose 4 of the top girls in Paris: Sonja, Rebekka, Marcia and Veronique. done!  Next on his list, book the photographer. From the beginning, he had imagined he’d have Helmut Newton on his team. He really admired him and felt that he was destined to build a great friendship with the German fashion legend. By now, the budding fashioniste was 21 years old and although his talent and maturity were leap years beyond his chronological age, his naiveté was age appropriate.

The stark reality of how late he was in the booking process hit him hard and it started with the first call made to the modeling agency. All four of the girls he wanted were already booked that day with a shoot for Vogue with Helmut Newton... strike one and now, strike two. He was stunned and couldn’t believe what he was hearing. His next call was to the Ritz. The café by the pool... booked! The garden... reserved! The library... taken! Even the area behind the hotel that was the least appealing was unavailable. Too many strikes and he was beginning to panic. As he began to argue with the reservation desk over the phone insisting that they accommodate him, he realized the futility and politely hung up the phone. He pleaded that they continue to work on a solution and requested that they page him if anything opened up. He sat at his desk like a zombie in an almost frozen in motion position. What to do?


Two hours later, the hotel summoned him to give him the news that one of the reservations on the property had canceled and if he came with a deposit immediately, he could have space. The only caveat was that they’d have to move things around and would only be able to give him the exact location within the property on the day of the shoot. As he hung up the phone, he realized that he was getting upset by details that were out of his control and the news of at least having a firm location, brought a sense of needed relief. He knew that he would be able to figure out the details if only he would... STAY ELEGANT. Those two words had been instilled in him by his father. His father told him that no matter what the circumstance, by remaining, charming and polite and focusing only on the positive, no situation could stand in the way of happiness.  He observed how his father had followed that rule and admired how things seemed to always resolve favorably for his dad when it was practiced, even when things were bleak.

It was coming up on 3 pm, which meant, time for a coffee. It was a daily ritual that was never ignored. It was the perfect opportunity to clear his mind. So off he went and by the time he reached the café and took his regular table reserved for him each day, at the same time. He was buoyant and had regained his sense of hope. As he surveyed the area, he noticed the booking agent who he’d been scolded by earlier that day for not booking in advance, just happened to be passing by. Waving him over to join him for an espresso, the booker accepted the invite and sat down at the young designer's table. Although he had expected Lloyd to be in a bad mood he was surprised to find him so carefree and charming. By the end of the unplanned meeting, Lloyd was given the assurance that if he allowed the booker to organize the photographer and the girls without edit, he would ensure that he’d be covered on the set. As the two bid adieu, and with the photoshoot now reserved at the Ritz in scheduled to start in less than 30 hours, the booker looked Lloyd directly in the eyes and remarked, “Lloyd, you’re an elegant man, I am going to do my best for you!”.

Meanwhile an hour later Lloyd was becoming alarmed and rather than panic he decided to look for the racks and the crew and began to walk the property on his own hoping to find them. As he neared his favorite Café by the pool, almost not wanting to look, in order to spare himself from seeing someone else use his spot, he couldn’t believe his eyes and the look on his face might have been the same as if he’d seen a ghost. It was in a sense an odd déjà vu. He saw gowns from his collection being worn by the models that were unavailable to him, and at the location at the cafe next to the pool that was unavailable and watched as the photographer with a German accent was clicking his camera with ferocity. Lloyd recognized him immediately, it was Helmut Newton.

Word spread throughout the hotel about the photo shoot and the beautiful gowns that Newton raved about and by the end of that day Lloyd had gained the praise, encouragement, and friendship with Mr. Newton and subsequently sold several gowns from the collection to guests in the hotel who found the whole incident charming and very "fashion".  And so it was that Lloyd’s original plan materialized and his first professional photoshoot went as over-the-top as this story. 


A True Story - with great exaggeration!


So while it is true that Helmut Newton happened to run across a few of Lloyd's gowns and included them in his photoshoot and because of that word spread across the kingdom that a new couturier was found... the part about the café by the pool is totally made up – well, after all, everyone knows there is no outdoor pool at the Ritz.

The Days of Paris Couture, when the Paris fashion scene was found at Les Bains Douches, Le Privilège and Privé 


Since as far back as he could recall, Lloyd Klein had ambitions of becoming the worlds greatest architect. So, it wasn't a surprise to anyone who knew him that he would enroll in the architecture studies program at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. What was a surprise to all in his circle occured toward the end of his second year in the program. Lloyd had only missed two classes ever and both times excusable due to circumstances beyond his control. So when he chose to attend a the Givenchy Haute Couture defile during Paris Fashion Week, everyone wondered why he never went back to another class ever again. Get the full story on our blog linked here- Fashion Eponym | The Maestro's Shoes



Three years later immersing himself in his pursuit of learning as much as possible about his new artistic discipline. He dove in head first by learning the tools of the trade, sewing by hand, as well as machine, sketching, creating toilles and muslins. He knew the importance of understanding the practical aspects of clothing design but equally important to him was to understand the history of the great couturiers who innovated and perfected the craft as artists of the trade. What better place in the world is there to do this but in Paris, France, the birthplace of high fashion?


Although he had staged a few runway presentations attended by family and friends, he felt ready to enter the playing field with the other Houses who were granted official timeslots on the Paris Fashion Week Calendar. The budding 21-year-old designer officially launched his brand by opening the doors to his first House of Couture bearing his name on Rue du Faubourg St. Honore in the Paris 8th arrondissement. The timing of his atelier opening was ideal since it coincided with the Paris Winter Couture Fashion Week. Having an atelier in operation with one's name on the venue is necessary to receive placement on the official calendar of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. With the correct criteria and credentials to apply for a timeslot along with the overwhelming approval of the officials in charge of the Chambre, he was given an afternoon time slot as a guest member. Lloyd Klein presented his Fall Winter 90/91 collection at the Galleries Lafayette. The press nodded with approval and applause. Suzy Patterson of AP News became his greatest champion in the press offering him accolades and encouragement to continue. He was now out of the gate and running. The road was unchartered for him but he knew he was on the right path.

Helmut Newton Snaps and Lloyd Klein is Discovered


His next big "First, in a Year-of-Firsts", was his upcoming first professional photo shoot that would happen the week surrounding his runway debut. For months, his focus had been on building the collection. He knew that beyond designing the garments that having the right photos to market the collection was integral for his business. He imagined that his work would be  photographed at the Ritz Paris located in the place Vendome in the outdoor cafe situated next to the pool. He had been to that cafe many times and it was always filled with the newsmakers that were travelling through or resident of Paris. The monumental and historic ambience that signified all that he loved in architecture was found here. It was the epitome of what he loved. So much so, that the idea of having the photo shoot take place in any other locale was never remotely considered.

More images from Gres by Lloyd Klein

In a cameras click, it was now photo shoot day and Lloyd was in his zone. He had a sense that everything would turn out well despite his lack of control over the details. He remained unusually calm without the burden of determining how the day would materialize. He'd already released the need to demand that everything went according to his agenda and ceded that job to the universe and the booking agent. It was not until he arrived at the hotel that his ability to stay elegant would be challenged. Instead of smoothly checking with the concierge to be directed to his set, his panicked assistant met him upon arrival and reprised him of the circumstances that threatened to compromise the day.


It seems that when the rack with Lloyd’s collection arrived, not only were they improperly tagged with the exact location within the hotel but the name of the designer was absent as well. Reservations had not communicated the last minute change in reservations to the bellman responsible for the dispatch of all deliveries. Knowing that there were four photo shoots on the calendar he decided to cart the racks from set to set, to see if he could deliver them accordingly.


Allegedly, as he approached the first shoot set, the photographer, and his staff were indeed waiting for two racks of swimwear still undelivered and already late for their production. As they unzipped the dark grey garment bags, they discovered evening gowns instead of swimwear. The bellman stood by, waiting anxiously to get the confirmation that the rack was where it was supposed to be so that he could cross this off  his to-do list. However, before he could ask if the items were the ones expected, he was stymied by the photographer who confidently declared (lied) to the bellman, "this is exactly what I've been waiting for", and signed for the delivery. Anticipating that his very thorough assistant would contradict him, he stopped her before she could say anything as he had done with the bellman and whispered in her ear, "Yes my dear, I know it's not our rack, but while you may be looking for swimwear, I'm looking to shoot something that makes me dream...and the collection before me, is the reason I love fashion. I promise to give you your swimwear shoot which we can knock out in an hour but for now, I am going to have some fun." 

1992   He returned to the official Paris calendar to present haute couture for the Autumn Winter 1993/1994 season and by this time several celebrities had taken notice of his work and became clients. Among them: were Patricia Kaas, Elizabeth Taylor, Candice Bergen, Joan Collins, Linda Evans, Whitney Houston, Opera Diva Maria D'Apericida and the legendary Yma Sumac for whom he had designed an entire 50-piece wardrobe for her European concert series.


Lloyd Klein accepted an offer to become the Artistic Director for Grės, Paris. Interestingly, by doing so, he became the youngest designer on record in Paris to have attained that level of position for any of the historic Couture Houses. By neccesity, he put his own eponymous brand on hold, in order to focus solely on his word with Grės and the enormous job at hand.

1995  Three years had passed and the designer longed for the satisfaction of working independently both on a practical as well as an artistic level of concern. With great thought and debate, Klein declined to extend his generous contract with Yagi Tsucho, the Japanese corporate owners of Grės, in order to afford him with the necessary time to focus on rebuilding his eponymous brand. He immediately opened new offices and a small showroom in Place Vendome.

1996 Lloyd Klein was appointed Honorary Head of Costume for the Théâtre National de l'Opéra-Comique in compliance with the French National Heritage of the Minister of Industry.


February  1996  A Lloyd Klein Paris named boutique is opened under a license agreement in Moscow. He attends the opening and is afforded VIP treatment and is given the keys to the city by the mayor at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Although the merchandise is among the most expensive in the city, the store is sold out in just 4 days. The only item left was a $27,000 bustier and it is sold on the 5th day. 

1997 The return to the press runway was staged at the 1,248 seat historic l'Opera-Comique. The collection was Surrealist-inspired, citing both Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali as having an influence on his point of view in the development of this season.  Among the well-heeled notable guests in attendance: Madame Chirac, Madame Carven, Princesse Philomene d’ Arenberg, Princess Diane de Beauveau Craon, Princess Anne de Bourbon Sicile, Mrs. Judith Taubman, Lady Dewy Sukarno, Princess Sara al Saud, Bo Derek, Patricia Kass, Mylene Farmer, Opera Diva Maria d'Aparacida, Crazy Horse owner Lova Moore, Jean-Claude and Gladys Van Damme, Ivana Trump, Barbara Carerra, Cyrielle Clair, Yma Sumac, Olivier Picasso, Amanda Lear, Ursula Andress, Mrs. Jocelyne Wildenstein and Mrs. Nan Kempner. The VIP guests attend the spectacular and lead the standing ovation at its conclusion. Special order sales were brisk and healthy. 


1997 Lloyd Klein was invited to be a guest judge for the "Best Model of the World" contest in Bulgaria and he attended with two of his supermodel friends Naomi Campbell and Adriana Karembeu.


The brand is recognized and spotlighted as Lloyd Klein is awarded Designer of the Year for Women's Couture at Europe's l'Prixe {The Best}, Europe's high society annual gala with awards given to those considered the best in over 20 categories in the arts. {The Best} is an annual event produced by Massimo Gargia. Created initially as a marketing extension for his jet-set European monthly magazine also called "The Best". Eventually, it has become one of the jet-sets events not to be missed taking on a life of its own. In 2014, the event celebrated it's 35th Anniversary.

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