Lola Prusac created a handbag inspired by the work of Mondrian, her designs predating YSL Mondrian-inspired dresses by more than thirty years

Polish Pioneer at Hermès, designer to the Stars

 Two-piece black dress. L’ofciel De La Mode n°226, 1940

Two-piece black dress. L’ofciel De La Mode n°226, 1940

The story of Lola Prusac begins in the city of Łódź, which, at the time of her birth in 1895, was one of Europe’s most important centre of textile production. She would go on to become one of the most influential designers in Paris, counting famous artists as close friends and Hollywood actors as customers. 

As Prusac was growing up, the Polish-Jewish population in Łódź was using its wealth to build enormous factories producing textiles to be sold to Russia and China. The industry only began to decline after 1989. Today, the city still maintains a close connection to the textile and fashion industries, and houses the Central Museum of Tex- tiles, with an impressive collection of communist-era fashion.Born Leontyna Prussak, Lola Prusac was the daughter of one of the most renowned industrialists in Łódź, who owned numerous textile factories and buildings in the city. Shortly before the outbreak of World War I, Lola and her two sisters left Poland and moved to the Paris district of Montparnasse. Prusac completed her studies at the Sorbonne and the École du Louvre. Meanwhile, her elder sister opened an art bookshop on Boulevard du Montparnasse and it is through this shop that Lola forged friendships with a number of influential artists, including Robert and Sonia Delaunay, Modigliani and Colette.

 Lola Prussac for Hermès, ser for sky, 1937,  catalog     o  f   t  h  e   "Fashion Mix "  exhibition,   Cité nationale de l'histoire de l'immigration Paris

Lola Prussac for Hermès, ser for sky, 1937, catalog of the "Fashion Mix "exhibition, Cité nationale de l'histoire de l'immigration Paris

Between 1925 and 1935, Lola Prusac designed for Hermès and, in 1936, opened her own fashion house on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. In the 1930s, Prusac designed a sensational multi-coloured clothing line for Hermès. Inspired by Polish folk art from the Łowicz region, the collection had a huge impact thanks to unique colour combinations such as orange and green. Prusac's folk art-inspired sweaters were a massive success for Hermès, and around the same time, she created a handbag with a print inspired by the work of artist Piet Mondrian, her designs predating Yves Saint Laurent’s famous Mondrian inspired dresses by more than thirty years. Her next revolutionary venture came with a series of designs that combined casual sportswear with elegant fashion. She was behind some of Hermès’ best-known sports collections dating from the 1930s and also created a bathing costume line with prints to match the iconic Hermès scarves.

After the war, Lola Prusac focused her energies on her own fashion house. In 1948, she began organising fashion shows each season. She specialised in casual, loose fitting knitted sports attire and it was this choice which would prevent her from being awarded the prestigious title of Couture Création, despite the fact she had been a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Hautre Couture 1942. Lola Prusac was a designer popular among princesses of Monaco and lm stars such as: Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, Wallis Simpson, Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot. She also created perfumes called Sega and Gant de Crin and had her own jewellery line. 

Lola Prusac died in Paris aged 100.

Paulina Latham