Geoffrey Beene

Geoffrey Beene (born Samuel Albert Bozeman Jr., August 30, 1924 – September 28, 2004) was an American fashion designer. Beene was one of New York's most famous fashion designers, recognized for his artistic and technical skills and for creating simple, comfortable and dressy women's wear.

Geoffrey Beene
Samuel Albert Bozeman Jr.

August 30, 1924 (1924-08-30)
DiedSeptember 28, 2004 (2004-09-29) (aged 80)
OccupationFashion designer
RelativesBarbara Ann Wellman
Geoffrey Beene, LLC
IndustryClothing, Eyewear, and Formal wear
HeadquartersNew York City, New York, United States
Key people
Geoffrey Beene and G. Thompson Hutton
ProductsClothes, fragrance, formal wear, sunglasses, eyewear, jewelry, luggage
ParentPVH (2018-present)

Early life and education

Beene was born on August 30, 1924 in the small rural town of Haynesville, Louisiana located just south of the Arkansas state line. He was born into a family of doctors and was encouraged to follow in their footsteps. He studied medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans but dropped out in 1946, after three years of study. Beene moved to Los Angeles, where he studied fashion design at the University of Southern California and worked in the display department of the I. Magnin retail store until 1947.[1]

Later that year, he moved to New York City to attend the Traphagen School of Fashion.[2] He then moved to Paris, where he attended the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne (ECSCP) and the couture house of Molyneux. In 1949, he returned to New York, where he became Assistant Designer at the Seventh Avenue house of Harmay. In 1958, he left Harmay to design with Teal Traina, before founding his eponymous design house.[3]


Beene founded his firm, Geoffrey Beene, Inc., in New York City in 1963, in partnership with Teal Traina's Leo Orlandi in a Seventh Avenue showroom. A year later, he was awarded the Coty American Fashion Critics' Award, one of the most prestigious awards in fashion. His first collection was featured on the cover of Vogue Magazine.

In his 1970 collection, Beene applied the use of inexpensive fabrics such as sweatshirt and denim fabric for evening dresses. Introduced in 1971, the Beene Bag line of women’s wear used the same silhouettes as his couture line. By the mid-1970s, Beene had a number of licensing agreements for products such as eyeglasses and bed sheets, and also his most famously known cologne called Grey Flannel, launched in 1975. It contains notes of orange, lemon, rose, geranium, sandalwood and cedar wood, and is considered a classic men's fragrance winning a FIFI Award in 1976. In 1976, Beene became the first American designer to show a collection in Milan, Italy.. This success led to his sixth Coty Award in 1977, for giving impetus to American fashion abroad. In 1982, Beene received his eighth Coty Award; the most awarded to any one designer.[4]

In 1986, Beene was named The Council of Fashion Designers of America's Designer of the Year. Two years later, the Council of Fashion Designers of America awarded Beene the Special Award for Fashion as Art. In 1989, he opened the first Geoffrey Beene retail boutique on Fifth Avenue.

Beene's clients included Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon, Nancy Reagan, Faye Dunaway and Glenn Close.[5] Beene was known as both an innovator and a teacher. Several of his former apprentices, Kay Unger, Alber Elbaz, Maria Pinto, and Doo Ri Chung are now successful fashion designers.


Beene died on September 28, 2004, due to complications (pneumonia) from cancer at age 80. His career in fashion design spanned over 40 years.

Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award

In honor of Beene's fashion legacy, the Council of Fashion Designers of America created the annual Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement award in 1984.

Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients[6]
1984James Galanos
1985Katharine Hepburn
1986Bill Blass
1987Giorgio Armani
1988Nancy Reagan
1989Oscar De La Renta
1990Martha Graham
1991Ralph Lauren
1997Geoffrey Beene
1999Yves Saint Laurent
2000Valentino Garavani
2001Calvin Klein
2002Karl Lagerfeld
2003Anna Wintour
2004Donna Karan
2005Diane von Furstenberg
2006Stan Herman
2007Robert Lee Morris
2008Carolina Herrera
2009Anna Sui
2010Michael Kors
2011Marc Jacobs
2012Tommy Hilfiger
2013Vera Wang
2014Tom Ford
2015Betsey Johnson
2016Norma Kamali

Charitable activities

All net profits from Geoffrey Beene products are donated to philanthropic causes, such as cancer research, Alzheimer's research, domestic violence prevention and response, Save the Children, and educational programs, including scholarships for students majoring in fashion and related disciplines.[7]

In 2007, The Geoffrey Beene Foundation formed a strategic alliance with the FSF YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund to further the mutual goal of expanding support for students seeking careers in the Fashion Industry. The foundation has donated to the FSF in excess of $5 million committed through 2016.


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