Lucien Pellat-Finet, Fashion’s ‘King of Cashmere,’ Dies at 78

Lucien Pellat-Finet, the French fashion designer whose brash, irreverent and unapologetically expensive sweaters earned him the nickname King of Cashmere, died on Feb. 26 in Trancoso, Brazil, where he had owned a home for more two decades. He was 78.

A niece, Camille Dauchez, said that Mr. Pellat-Finet (pronounced pell-ah fee-NAY), who had Parkinson’s disease, died in a swimming accident.

The sweaters in Mr. Pellat-Finet’s collection, which was introduced in 1994, combined two seemingly disparate elements: extremely high-quality cashmere and provocative symbols like marijuana leaves, peace signs and, most frequently, skulls, all of which were occasionally embellished with crystals. Sometimes, skulls were additionally tweaked with details like a stuck-out tongue, aviator sunglasses or a tilted sailor’s hat.

They came in neutral colors like black and navy as well as vivid shades of orange, pink, green and camouflage prints. Instead of a traditional sweater’s somewhat boxy cut and ribbed cuffs at the arms and waistband, a Lucien Pellat-Finet pullover was essentially a luxe T-shirt, as the makeup artist Tom Pecheux put it, in “the shape of Fruit of the Loom.”

“He informalized cashmere,” said Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, the author of “Super F**king Lucky,” a 2019 book about the designer. “He really made people look at cashmere in a totally different way.”

While the aesthetic of the sweaters was casual, their price tags were extreme. In 1998, a four-ply cashmere cardigan cost around $1,500, the equivalent of just under $3,000 today.

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