French designer Ted Lapidus dies

Known as 'the poet of French couture'

PARIS -- Ted Lapidus, the fashion designer who redefined chic with the 1960s unisex look, has died in France. He was 79.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, in an homage to the designer, said Lapidus "democratized French elegance and classicism" and "made fashion accessible to men and women in the street."

Lapidus died of pulmonary problems Monday afternoon at a hospital in Cannes, his sister Rose Torrente-Mett said. He also suffered from leukemia.

Born Edmond Lapidus on June 23, 1929, in Paris, the son of a tailor, Ted Lapidus created his label in 1951, and in 1963 he became a member of the prestigious Paris fashion club that runs haute-couture, La Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.

The sandy-colored safari suit became emblematic of the modernist Lapidus style, with purist lines that swept the international fashion scene in the 1960s and 1970s. At one point, he was referred to as "the poet of French couture," the statement by Sarkozy's office noted.

However, Ted Lapidus designed high fashion for only a brief portion of his career, preferring to put the accent on accessories early on. Today, the Ted Lapidus label lives mainly through the sale of accessories such as fragrances and watches.

Olivier Lapidus, the designer's son, continued diversifying the label through new partnerships starting in 1982.

Funeral services are scheduled for Friday at Paris' Pere-Lachaise cemetery.
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