Sonja de Lennart

Sonja de Lennart

Sonja de Lennart (born May 21, 1920, in Prussia) is a European fashion designer. In 1948, she invented the famous and ever-stylish Capri pants. [] - Mueller Science/University of Zuerich - 1929: Hot pants – 1944: Fahrradhosen - 1947: Blue Jeans - 1948: Capri-Hose [Capri Pants] – (1900) 1952: Bermuda shorts: 1948 hatte die deutsche Modedesignerin Sonja de Lennart - welche häufig in Capri zu Gast war - in ihrer „Capri Collection“ enganliegende, dreiviertellange Hosen mit einem kurzen seitlichen Schlitz vorgestellt. (German)] [ - Mueller Science/University of Zuerich - Caprihosen [Capri Pants] (invented by Sonja de Lennart 1948) (German)] ] [ - Capri Pants: A Timeless Fashion Trend] (Fashion Style You, retrieved 08 August 2008)] [] Sonja de Lennart: Official site ]

Early Life

Sonja de Lennart was born in 1920 into a multicultural family and is the daughter of an industrialist and syndicus. In her youth, she was a keen athlete in the sport of swimming and track and field. By the age of eight, de Lennart had already won many swimming competitions. In 1932, she participated in the official National Youth Competitions as an athlete in track and field running the 100 m and 1000 m sprint. She was an active member of the Classic Theater Society along with being a talented student of the Breslau State Opera ballet whose teacher was the famous dancer and ballet master, Anna Capana.

After attending business college in Breslau, her dream of becoming a fashion designer became a passion. She studied design despite her father’s extremely strong opposition and threat of disinheritance. She secretly enrolled as a student apprentice at Erich Boehm Atelier and later at Herman Palm Atelier in Berlin in which she studied the skillful trade of tailoring and the customizing of garments – from elegant hats to evening gowns – until she became a master craftsman of her trade graduating as a textile engineer. After World War II, she was entered as a member into the prestigious Handwerksrolle [ Handwerksrolle] (Is the register of master craftspeople, retrieved 08 August 2008)] [ Chamber of Trade (German)] ] [– Chamber of Trade (English translation)] (retrieved on 08 August 2008)] of the Chamber of Trade. After the political regime had destroyed the family fortune, it was de Lennart who, after World War II, restored her family financially with her fashion design trade.

Fashion Career

In 1945, after the war, Sonja de Lennart began to produce fashion wear and opened her first boutique, Salon Sonja, in Munich. Her fashion career began with a rare but fortunate circumstance when the president of the Taylor’s Guild, M. Ponater, allowed de Lennart to exhibit one of her first creations (a hand painted dress which she painted herself and displayed on a mannequin) in one corner of Ponater’s booth of the leading Fashion Trade Fair, Handwerksmesse [ Fashion Trade Fair] (The Internationale Handwerksmesse is the Leading Trade Fair for the Craft Trades, retrieved on 08 August 2008) ] , where he was displaying and selling his own fashion collection. This one and only opportunity to show her talent had customers standing in line to place orders for which she wasn’t prepared. This event turned into the beginning of the distribution of de Lennart’s creations. The demand for her designs was so overwhelming that soon after, the family began to manufacture another of her creations, imitation leather vestures, as well as three-quarter length coats that were exhibited at the Craftsman Fair [ Craftsman Fair] ] and distributed nationwide becoming a bestseller.

In that same year, she created a wide-swinging skirt with a wide belt (which she modeled herself) [ Sonja de Lennart] (Wide swinging skirt and belt modeled by Sonja de Lennart)] , a blouse, and hat. Her design collection became known as the Capri Collection [ Original Capri Collection] (Photos of the original Capri Collection)] . She chose this name as it was her family’s love for the island of Capri that captivated her together with a recorded song sent to her by her family in America called, Isle of Capri (song). Her love for this song and her increased fondness for the Island of Capri, gave her the inspiration of the Capri name.

In 1948, after years of women wearing the typical wide and rather masculine pants, de Lennart created the sexy tight three-quarter length Capri pants with the stylish short slit on the outer-side of the pant leg. The original classic Capri Pants [ Summer and Winter Capri Styles] (Original photos of summer- and winter-style Capri pants)] were designed in specific lengths for winter and summer wear. In 1949, German actress, Mady Rahl, and Austrian actress, Erni Mangold [ Erni Mangold] (Wikipedia)] [ Erni Mangold] (List of Austrian Film Actors-Wikipedia)] , both posed for Sonja de Lennart in the original summer- and winter-style Capri pant [ Original Capri Styles] (Original Capri styles modeled by actresses Mady Rahl and Erni Mangold)] , respectively.

In 1952, Edith Head recognized the innovative and revolutionary style of Sonja de Lennart and had her Capri Collection [ Original Capri Collection] (Photos of the original Capri Collection - Capri pants, Capri skirt, Capri blouse, Capri belt, Capri hat)] [the wide-swinging Capri skirt, the high-neck Capri blouse, and the wide Capri belt and Capri pants] sewn by the Italian sisters Fontana for Audrey Hepburn in the movie, Roman Holiday. In 1953, Hubert de Givenchy had de Lennart’s Capri pants stitched for Audrey Hepburn, which she wore in the movie Sabrina (1954).

Edith Head introduced the Capri skirt, Capri blouse, Capri pants, and Capri belt to the world; but, it was the Capri pants that made history. Among the many who have worn the fashionable Capri pants are Doris Day, Jane Russell, Katherine Hepburn, Gina Lollobrigida, Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Kim Novak, Sophia Loren, Anita Ekberg, and Mary Tyler Moore. Capri pants marched even in the Existentialist Bars from Saint-Germain-des-Pres in Paris: “Young women loved themselves in black roll necks, tight Capri pants, and flatties [flat sandals] along with straight long hair and black-painted eyes a la Juliette Greco,” reported Professor Gundula Wolter [ Professor Gundula Wolter] (retrieved 08 August 2008)] (1994, 270).

Sonja de Lennart was also the first designer who utilized the famous Everglaze [ Everglaze Finish Fabrics (retrieved 08 August 2008)] textile from America which her family from California sent to de Lennart upon her request. Subsequently, it developed into big business for the American manufacturer. The material was then licensed to European companies; as a result, foreign royalties accounted for more than 70 percent of the firm’s total profits.

In 1955 in Munich, Sonja de Lennart opened her new, much larger fashion house and renamed the company Maison Haase to include, in part, both her and her husband’s name. De Lennart’s fashion house became the place to be. Major movie companies, prominent opera directors, costume designers, and notables from all over the world traveled to Europe to acquire Sonja de Lennart’s design. Among those were Ingrid Bergman, Gary Cooper, Maria Schell, Curd Juergens, and Klaus Kinski as well as nobles like the Countess of Stauffenberg; the Woolworth heir, Sunny von Bülow; Princess Auersperg and Queen Soraya Esfandiary, the wife of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, The Fifth Dimension, and many others.

De Lennart became one of the most innovative European fashion designers after World War II influencing a whole generation of new designers and was considered a leading pioneer of her time by major magazines wherein she was interviewed along with legendary fashion designers as Yves Saint Laurent, Paco Rabanne, and André Courrèges. There was almost no fashion designer who did not add Capri pants to their collection.



* [ The State (South California)] Life and Style: "Capris: Hot or Not?" 27 August 2008
*The Boston Globe, 06/29/2008, “Ancient Capri Still Casts Its Powerful Spell”
* [,0,711951.story Chicago Tribune] Capris, In the year of the dress, this summer staple endures, 06 July 2008
* [ The Seattle Times] 30 June 2008, Living, “They are Now a Guy Thing”
*The Daily Freeman, New York, 01/18/2006, "Life"
*Jasmin Magazine, Number 12/69, 06/09/69, "What Fashion Designers Think If They Create These Dresses"
* [ Fashion Pakistan] (Fashion Articles, “History of Capri Pants,” 19 March 2008)
* [ ABC News] Trend Test: Will Capri Pants for Men Take Off?
* [ The Daily Herald] Trend Spotting: Capri pants…..on guys?
* [ Steve Dahl Show] 07 July 2008, 6:14
* [ Florida Today] “Will Capri Pants for Men Take Off” 25 June 2008
* [ The Sentinel] 25 June 2008, Will Capri Pants for Men Take Off?
*International Business Digest Magazine July/August 1969, 10S229ENG79/89, printed in Switzerland (page: Cover page) “Designs for Tomorrow’s Living”
*Jasmin Magazine 25/69, December 8, 1969 B8489D p. 181, 182 “If a Woman Reveals Immediately Everything”
*AZ Abendzeitung July 6/7 1968, B1017A “Beauty loves Bikini”
*Madame Magazine, September 1971, B4579E (cover page) “Fashion”
*SZ Newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, 28 August 1959 [SZ # 206] ”Fashion Show---Eye Candy for Chubbies"
*AZ Abendzeitung, B1017A, 19. August 1955, "A household name of international fashion design....For 20 years Sonja worked as fashion designer in inland and foreign countries"
*Neue Revue Magazine 12/69, 23 March 1969 C5156C, cover page, p. 11, “Model Design”
*Neue Revue Magazine 10/69, March 9, 1969 C8124, cover page
*BZ (Bildzeitung), C8495A 23 November 1967 “Lill in Leather”
*BZ, C8495A, December 1, 1969, #279 “After One Year”
*Jasmin Magazine 26/69, 12/22/69 B8489, p. 29, “From once a young girl becomes a young woman”
*Freundin Magazine 8/69, 8 April 1969 3Z3875C, p. 44, 45, 46, 47 “The Summer of the Transparent Girls”
*Diners Club Magazine, October 68, p. 21, “Shopping”
*Bunte Magazine 9/69, 26 February 1969, 3Z2013C, p. 82, 86, “It was at the Bal Pare”
*Freudin Magazine 12/17/1968, 26/68, 3Z3875D, p. 8, “Coin Bolero”
*Bunte Magazine 13/69, 26 March 1969, 3Z2013C, p 112, 114 “To the Point, Darling!”
*TZ (Tageszeitung) 23 May 1969, #123, B1961m, p 16, “Summer 1969”
*Jasmin Magazine 1/70, 01/05/1970 B8489D, “This Lady Wears Cocktail Dresses”
*AZ, 16/17, August 1969, B1017A, “For Young People”
*AZ, June 8, 1970 , B1017A, “Fashion in a Leap”
*Epoca Magazine, 11/1967, “Skins of People from Today: Leather”
*Brigitte w/Constanze Magazine, 12/70, C1940D, 2 June 1970, p. 4, “Summer Wear Colorfully Embroidered”
*AZ October 7, 1971, B1017A, p. 2 “Combining: Imagination Thing”
*AZ, November 20, 1969, B1017A, “We Can Do It Just Like [professional] Models.”
*AZ March 2, 1970 B1017 “In Rhombus-Look to Africa”
*SZ Newspaper, October 22, 1971 #253, “A Portion Jungle”
*Jasmin Magazine 8/70, April 13, 1970, B8489D, p. 14 “Mini, Midi, Maxi”
*AZ Newspaper #202, B1017A, September 2, 1969 “Totally Private”
*Freundin Magazine, June 17, 1969, 13/69, 3Z3875D, “Wishes to the Summer”
*Freundin Magazine, July 1, 1969, 3 Z3875D, 14/69, p. 72, “Saucy Fashion”
*Freundin Magazine, July 29, 1969, 3Z3875D, 16/69, “Wanderlust Fashion: When you dream sometimes, your name would be Anushka…”
*Eltern Magazine, 12/69, Dec 1, 1969, B606E, “For the Mothers”
*Freundin Magazine 13 – June 9, 1970, 3Z3875D, page 46, “Pack into the Holiday Suitcase: Ministripes, Little Dots Dresses”
*Jasmin Magazine, 10/70-May 11, 1970, B8489D, p 77, “Boutique for Two”
*Jasmin Magazine, 11/70-25, May 70, B8489D, p. 76-79, “Embroidered, Smoked, and Rejuvenated”
*Jasmin Magazine, B8489D, [July 1970] p, 48-53 “The Seven Things Over the Bikini”
*Jasmin Magazine, 9/70, 27 April 1970 B8489D, “He who finds contrasts engaging, can carry quietly sometimes mini, sometimes Maxi”
*Jasmin Magazine, 12/70, 8 June 1970, B 8489D, p 56-59, “That’s Why Men Always Look at Legs”
*Jasmin Magazine, 9/7, 23 April 1971, B8489D, p 80,81, “The New Dresses for the Summer”
*AZ B1017A,2 March 1970, "Totally Private"
*AZ B1017A,20/21 June 1970, "Totally Private"
*AZ B1017A,26 May 1970, "Totally Private"
*AZ B1017A,15 May 1970, "Totally Private"
*AZ B1017A,30 April/1 May 1970, #99, "Totally Private"
*Freundin Magazine, 17/70, 4 Aug 70 3Z3875D, “This Should Be a Drifting Sand Dune? Doesn’t Move a Bit!”
*Freundin Magazine, 16/70, 21 July 1970 3Z3875, p. 30, “It’s called ticking, does look like that. But it’s Jersey!”
*Freundin Magazine, 22/71, 22 October 1971, 3Z3875D, cover page, “Romantic: The New Fashion Style”
*Freundin Magazine, 25/69, 24 November 1970, 3Z3875D, “The Most Beautiful New Winter Coats”
*Jasmin Magazine, 25/70, 7 Dec 1970, B8489D “Summer Look 1970”
*Jasmin Magazine, B8489D, 28/70, 9 November 1970, p. 136, “Dresses for the Most Beautiful Parties”
*Sueddeutsche Zeitung 5/6 Dec 1970 #291, “Feature: The Runway”
*AZ Newspaper, B1017A, February 7/8, 1955 “A Fashion Advice”
*AZ, B1017A, 23 July 1969, p.20, “Festive models before Florentine Fresco”
*Petra Magazine, “Folklore”
*Freundin, 3Z3875D, 25. November 1969, “How Beautiful Cocktail Dresses Can Be”
* [ The Daily Herald] Living: Trend Spotting: “Capri pants……..on guys?” 7 July 2008
* [ Telegraph Journal] “Will Capri pants for men be embraced?” 19 July 2008
* [ AOL Australia] Lifestyle: “Will Capri pants for men take off?” 25 June 2008
* [ The Amherst Daily News – News from the Canadian Press] Metrosexual Trend Test: “Will Capri pants for men take off?” 25 June 2008
* [ The Star Press] Trend Test: “Will Capri pants for men take off?” 5 July 2008
* [ The Honolulu Advertiser] Fashion: “Uh-huh, Capri pants just for men” 3 July 2008
* [ AOL New Zealand] Lifestyle: “Will Capri pants for men take off?” 25 June 2008
* [ Lubbock Avalanche Journal] Living: “Capri pants a new look for men” 28 June 2008
* [ Asbury Park Press – New Jersey] Trend Test: “Will Capri pants for men take off?” 27 June 2008
* [ AOL Canada] Life & Style: “Should This Man Be Wearing Capris?” 24 June 2008
* [ The Telegraph Herald] Taking the Trend Test: Will Capri pants for men take off?” 01 July 2008
* [ The Indianapolis Star] “Wearing capris is a breeze for this guy” 24 July 2008

External links

* [ Sonja de Lennart: Fashion Designer and Inventor of the famous Capri Pants] Official site

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