Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Orpheus Fountain at Cranbrook

Gloria Sachs, well known in the fashion world for the luxurious silk day separates that bore her label (1970 to 1994) and were worn by a large, loyal contingent of American women who shopped at the finest specialty stores, died March 12.  Her knowledge and passion for textile design were an inspiration, in particular the perfectly engineered paisley patterns she created and printed at the Ratti facilities in Como, Italy. She may well have been the first fashion designer to incorporate the acanthus leaf pattern with the paisley.

She studied textile design at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and described her student days, sitting around the school's Orpheus fountain with famous Cranbrook artists, architects and fabric and furniture designers who would soon change the course of mid-century American design.  "I thought all of life would be like that," she confessed one day. She went on to design fabric for Hans Knoll and Herman Miller and some of those textiles are in the Museum of Modern Art.  This was to be just one of her many honors throughout a long and giving career.

Certainly the work Sachs did at Antonio Ratti's studio with windows facing the lake, her own paintings and sculptures that were widely exhibited, her association with the Chinese artist Xu Bing and her proposed Beijing trip as a visiting scholar scheduled for fall, represented the beauty and delight that would please Orpheus.

Personally I like to visualize the piercing intelligence and talent and endless energy of an ageless Gloria Sachs sitting in the warm spring sun at the Cranbrook Fountain, the masterwork of sculptor Carl Milles, saying "Yes, after all,  life is like that."  JP

Gloria Sachs' paisley fashion sketch probably from the 1980s