BERLIN — Maria Bogner, the creative spirit behind the Bogner active sportswear brand, died of natural causes at her home on Nov. 17, the German sportswear company said. She was 88.
Married to the company’s founder, the late Willy Bogner Sr., she was credited with creating the modern skiwear look. She designed the first version of Bogner’s anorak just after World War II. While her husband was in the war, she ran the company. When he became a prisoner of war, she set out on a bicycle to find him and eventually arranged for his release in Hammelburg, Germany.
After the war, they worked together again at the company. Besides overseeing design of the newly rebuilt sportswear company, Maria Bogner was also the company’s top model, appearing on the covers of international fashion magazines such as Grazia. In 1948, she staged the first fashion show in bombed-out Munich.
But she was most closely associated with the success of stretch ski pants. During a 1955 business trip to the U.S., she was spotted in her red ski pants by stylish Sun Valley skiers. That triggered the beginning of Bogner’s popularity in the U.S. The brand’s stretch pants with stirrups — dubbed “Bogners” by the trade and the public — were worn by Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, Jayne Mansfield, the U.S. Olympic ski team and scores of fashion-forward skiers.
After the death of her husband in 1977, Bogner retired from the 70-year-old business, which was taken over by her son Willy Bogner Jr. and his wife, Sônia.
This story first appeared in the November 27, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.