He was laid to rest on April 22 in his hometown of Moncrabeau, in the picturesque south-west of France.
Goma’s journey in the fashion industry began when he moved to Paris at the age of 20. There, he caught the attention of Christian Dior and Jeanne Lafaurie, with whom he would engage in a fruitful collaboration lasting seven years. Goma’s debut collection made waves not only in Paris but also in the fashion capitals of London and Milan. His breakthrough moment came in 1958 when he introduced the Michel Goma label, instantly garnering global popularity. His exquisite creations graced the covers of prestigious fashion publications such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and L’Officiel.
In 1961, Goma embarked on a remarkable journey with the iconic Parisian label Jean Patou, where he assumed responsibility for the couture collections. Over the course of a decade, he ascended to become the star designer of the brand. During his tenure at Jean Patou, Goma recognized the talent of a young Jean Paul Gaultier and hired him as his first assistant. Goma’s designs adorned notable figures like Rose Kennedy, Princess Ashraf Pahlavi, and Empress Farah Diba of Iran.
Subsequently, Goma extended his influence to Japan, where he designed bridal wear, eyewear, and luggage collections for the renowned Isetan department store. Notably, he was commissioned by Japanese car manufacturer Nissan to design their new vehicle models. In 2018, Tokyo hosted a Michel Goma exhibition, highlighting his enduring popularity in Japan.
After a period overseeing ready-to-wear collections at Carven, where he introduced the brand’s first licensed products in Japan, Goma assumed a pivotal role as the creative director of Balenciaga’s womenswear from 1987 to 1992. During his tenure, the ‘Le Dix’ collection, inspired by the iconic perfume of the same name launched by Cristobal Balenciaga in 1947, enjoyed significant success.
Goma’s stint at Balenciaga prompted glowing praise from French fashion commentator Guy Monréal in L’Officiel, who lauded Goma for «having invented a new kind of young woman, at once dynamic and spiritual.» Goma’s distinctive designs, featuring spinning-top skirts, cancan-style petticoats, low-cut necklines, and corkscrew frills, were a homage to the legacy of Cristobal Balenciaga.
Born on March 12, 1932, in Moncrabeau, Goma’s hometown honors his memory with a dedicated museum showcasing over 2,000 drawings and 60 dresses crafted by the master couturier. A retrospective book published by the Moncrabeau association offers insights into Goma’s life and unwavering passion for fashion. In the book, Goma candidly shares, «Not being a good student, I used to think only about drawing. Between the ages of six and eight, I sketched my first dresses. I hid what I was doing from my father, but my mother supported me.»
The fashion world has paid tribute to Michel Goma, with heartfelt condolences and recognition of his enduring legacy. His contributions to the world of fashion continue to be celebrated at the Palais Galliera Museum in Paris, where some of his creations were acquired several years ago under the leadership of former director Olivier Saillard. A memorial service in honor of Michel Goma will be held in Paris in the coming days.