The Fairfield fashion designer dies at the age of 84 shortly after launching a new collection


FAIRFIELD – The renowned fashion designer Bern Conrad died at the end of last month, according to his obituary.

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

Conrad then embarked on a career in the fashion industry that led to the creation of his own womenswear brand.

He produced a considerable amount of silk clothing, sportswear, and knitwear, so during the course of his career US news and world report, and once said that a unique perspective and identity are essential for a career as a designer.


“Design is about finding out who you are because you have to express who you are and you have to be able to convey that to your end customers and customers,” he said, and later added, “Just do who you 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 on his blog In 2019, Conrad became the designer of a new sportswear company called Irka in 1975 that was founded and funded by Peter Seng, an importer of Chinese silk.

“This is where he met his future wife, Ilonka Frias, who worked as his 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 simple design and great fit, especially when working with silk and other natural materials and knitwear. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Conrad began designing under his own name.

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

Conrad’s obituary states that he never really retired as he spent his later years designing and building high quality residential homes.

“His thirst and passion for creativity never let up. He was always full of new ideas and plans and was constantly thinking about what’s next, ”it says.

At the beginning of November Conrad returned from a sabbatical and brought out a new Bern Conrad collection. A publication at the time stated that it “embodies stunningly flowing and playful lines that embrace movement and comfort”.

A celebrity from the sanctuary of New York’s clothing district, the press release said that his love for style and comfort has never left him. The new collection included maxi dresses, muscle T-shirts, short-sleeved T-shirts, ponchos and hoodies for every occasion.

“I have a critical definition of function,” Conrad said in the press release. “Of course it includes comfort and portability, but I think a garment is really functional if it stands the test of time, transcends trends, and has the versatility to complement a person’s existing wardrobe and lifestyle.”

When he was young, Bern loved skiing and playing tennis, according to his obituary, and even built its own pitch on its property. It turned out that he was a great music lover and would break into songs when he heard someone say part of a lyric.

“Always optimistic and friendly, there were only a few people in and around Fairfield who did not know Bern,” it said. “He loved bringing people together.”

Conrad leaves behind his wife Ilonka Conrad, his son Cole Conrad and a granddaughter and siblings.

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

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