Mr. Leroux was born Hervé Peugnet on May 30, 1957, in Bapaume, in northern France. He studied sculpture and art history at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris before dropping out to become a hairstylist and milliner.
In 1981 he met Karl Lagerfeld, who encouraged him to pursue fashion design. He changed his surname for the first time after Mr. Lagerfeld advised him that Peugnet would be too difficult for Americans, the target market, to pronounce. He suggested Léger, liking the allusion to lightness, for which the French word is légèreté.
Mr. Leroux, now working under the name Léger, worked alongside Mr. Lagerfeld at Fendi and later at Chanel and freelanced at Lanvin and Diane von Furstenberg before introducing his own boutique, Hervé Léger, in 1984. A fashion line with the new name soon followed, and then came the inception of the bandage dress.
“The story of the dress is a very simple one,” Mr. Leroux said. “Before I started making clothes, I was a hairdresser, then a hat maker. One day in a factory I found some bands that were headed for the garbage. They gave me the idea of taking those bands and putting them next to one another as one does making a hat.”
Coinciding with the ascendance of Azzedine Alaïa, the so-called King of Cling, Mr. Leroux’s bandage dress received considerable acclaim. It was designed to encase a figure and enhance it in the most flattering of ways. While sales never reached blockbuster levels, the dress’s aesthetic impact would be seen in the work of rivals on runways and on the clothes racks of mass-market retailers.
“Mr. Léger proved why Paris is the center of fashion creativity,” Carrie Donovan wrote in The New York Times Magazine after a show in 1991, using the surname he went by at the time. “His collection was original, well thought out, knowledgeably executed and about as incendiary as style can be these days.”
His designs also proved alluring to investors keen to expand the company across product lines and geographical borders. In 1998, Mr. Leroux’s business was acquired by the Los Angeles-based group BCBG Max Azria. It was the first time an American company had acquired a French designer-couturier.
But he quickly fell out with the new owners, and in 1999 he lost control of the Léger name, which was retained by Mr. Azria, who called the new collection “Hervé Léger by Max Azria.”
In 2000, Mr. Léger founded his own independently financed fashion house, Herve L. Leroux, adopting a new surname that had again been suggested by his old friend and mentor Mr. Lagerfeld.
As Mr. Leroux recalled in an interview with Style.com in 2006, “He told me, ‘Call yourself Leroux because your hair is red — not as red as it was, because you are older — but, anyway, it works, and everyone will know who you are.’”
In the last chapter of his career, Mr. Leroux’s clientele remained loyal to his feminine jersey dresses and his chic approach to contemporary cocktail attire. As creative director of the Paris house Guy LaRoche from 2004 to 2006, he dressed Hilary Swank for the 2005 Academy Awards ceremony in a memorable backless midnight-blue jersey gown, which was seen by millions of television viewers when she strode to the stage to accept the best actress award for her performance in the movie “Boys Don’t Cry.”
Mr. Leroux showed a new collection in 2013 as a guest on the Paris couture calendar after a 12-year hiatus from the catwalk. But he never again achieved the recognition or fame he found under his previous name, underscoring the creative and commercial struggles that can ensue when a designer’s name is no longer the designer’s.
He is survived by his sister, Jocelyne, who was a partner in the Leroux business.
After the news of his death broke, many of those who loved his designs shared tributes on Instagram.
The entertainer Dita Von Teese wrote: “We’ve lost one of the fashion greats. I loved Hervé for his wit, his candor, his sublime elegance and of course, his talent, which came from authentic obsession, with no care for the commerciality of fashion.”
And Cindy Crawford, posting a picture of herself standing next to Mr. Leroux in one of his scarlet red creations, wrote, “Remembering the man who created the bandage dress, which held you in all the right places.”