Fashion designer Fairfield dies at 84, shortly after launching new collection


FAIRFIELD – Famous fashion designer Bern Conrad died late last month, according to his obituary.

Conrad, 84, died in his Fairfield home on November 20. Born in Brooklyn, NY, he studied fashion at the Fashion Institute of Technology after serving in the United States Army.

Conrad then began a career in the fashion industry, which led to the creation of his own brand of women’s clothing.

He produced a significant amount of silk clothing, sportswear and knitwear during his career, according to American News and World Report, and once said, a unique perspective and a distinctive identity are essential for a career as a designer.


“Design is about learning who you are, because you have to express who you are, and you have to be able to convey that to your client and end customer,” he said, later adding, “Just make who you are. are what you want to be, who you want to be or are.

Jonathon Walford, curator of the Fashion History Museum in Ontario, Canada, said in his blog in 2019, Conrad became the designer of a new sportswear company called Irka in 1975, founded and funded by Peter Seng, a Chinese silk importer.

“It was here that he also met his future wife, Ilonka Frias, who was working as a design assistant,” said Walford.

Conrad was part of a new wave of American designers at the time, Walford said, and he became known for his design simplicity and excellent fit, especially when working with silk and other materials. natural as well as knitwear. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he says, Conrad began designing under his own name.

After closing his brand in 1988, said Walford, Conrad took a four-year hiatus but returned to the fashion industry in 1993, designing knitwear and sportswear under different brands, including making a line clothing store in Hong Kong for Ann Taylor.

Conrad’s obituary says he never really retired, as he spent his later years designing and building high-end residential homes.

“His thirst and passion for creativity never wavered. He was always full of new ideas and plans, always thinking of the next step, ”he said.

In early November, Conrad returned from a sabbatical and released a new Bern Conrad collection. A version at the time noted that it “embodies magnificent fluid and playful lines that embrace movement and comfort”.

As a prominent figure in the inner sanctum of New York’s Garment District, the release said his love of style and comfort has never left him. The new collection included long dresses, muscular T-shirts, short sleeves, T-shirts, ponchos and hoodies suitable for any occasion.

“I have a critical definition of function,” Conrad said in the release. “Of course that includes comfort and wearability, but I think a garment is really functional when it can also stand the test of time, the passage of trends and has the versatility to complement the wardrobe and the existing lifestyle of a person. “

In his youth, according to his obituary, Bern enjoyed skiing and playing tennis and even started his own court on his property. He noted that he was a big music lover and would take to singing if he heard someone say part of a word.

“Always upbeat and friendly, there were few people in and around the Fairfield area who were unfamiliar with Bern,” he said. “He liked to bring people together.

Conrad is survived by his wife, Ilonka Conrad, his son Cole Conrad, as well as a granddaughter and siblings.

Services were held at Greenfield Hill Congregational Church in Fairfield on December 1 with military funeral honors. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made to Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

joshua.labella@hearstmediact.com


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