“Pauline was very complicated and I don’t think I ever fully understood her, but she was a woman of substance. And I loved her.”
The 45-minute service for Trigere — who died in her sleep on Wednesday at the age of 93 — was held at the Riverside Memorial Chapel on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The service attracted around 250 people, including Geoffrey Beene, Fashion Institute of Technology president Joyce Brown, Fern Mallis and Stan Herman, who paid their respects alongside the many admirers and clients who befriended Trigere throughout the years.
In honor of her best friend, Taylor Bradford wore a striking red suit and opened her eulogy with the designer’s motto: “When you’re feeling blue, wear red.” She then spoke about Trigere’s zest for life that struck her when they first met 23 years ago after one of the designer’s fashion shows.
“I’m not easily intimidated by very many people, but I was when I met Pauline,” said the novelist.
“She packed more wallop than two men twice her size.” She said the two spoke last week and set a lunch date at Pauline’s favorite restaurant, La Grenouille.
“Just before we got off the phone, she said, ‘Thank you for not forgetting me,’ and I said, ‘How could I ever forget you, Pauline?”‘
Harold Koda, curator of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said Trigere combined Gallic roots with her own sensibility to design clothes for real life.
“Her clothes flattered everyone, especially those with a belle poitrine,” Koda said. “She would have called them boobs, though.”
Koda said the last time he saw Trigere, she wore a simple black blouse of her own design with a dramatically plunging neckline.
“She filled it in with an extraordinary bib of pave crystals, which was so typical of Pauline,” he said. “It didn’t show anything, but it seized the eye and was about mystery and seduction. There was the suggestion of allure, but it was completely discreet, and that’s what she always played with. She made very sexy clothes proper and very proper clothes sexy.”
The most touching of stories came from Trigere’s assistant of 43 years, Lucie Porges, who spoke about the designer’s generosity.
“One Christmas, when I first started working for Pauline, it was very cold, and as a present she sent me a typical fruit basket filled with produce from Florida,” she said. “But at the bottom of the basket, there was a beautiful fur coat. She had me try it on a few days before to make sure it fit, but told me it was going to a customer.”
Porges also told the story of a white satin dress with matching black coat that Trigere gave her sometime later, with pockets stuffed with Broadway theater tickets.
“Who would have thought of that?” she said. “She was really very generous. Thank you, Pauline, it has been wonderful.”
As those who came to pay homage to Trigere said their final prayers, pallbearers walked the casket down the aisle. Atop it, one single red rose.