Designer Spotlight

Oleg Cassini

This magenta dress has a V-neckline with an overlapping “wrap” closure. The silk dress has printed bands of turquoise, gold and deep purple.  The long kimono-style sleeves have button cuffs with a printed boarder around the wrists. The same border is repeated at the hemline. It was designed by Oleg Cassini for his 1983 line.

detail of the print on the sleeve

This summer, the Museum of Texas Tech University is sponsoring “Celebrating Our Heroes,” a collaborative exhibition with other Lubbock museums designed to honor local veterans.  Part of the exhibit at the Museum of Texas Tech University, called On The Home Front, highlights the contributions of fashion designers in WWII. Oleg Cassini provides another example of a designer’s role in the war effort.

Born in Paris to a Count and Countess, Oleg Cassini immigrated to the United States and started designing costumes in Hollywood.  In 1941, the first picture he worked on was I Wanted Wings, designing for then newcomer, Veronica Lake.

Actress,Gene Tierney Wearing a Costume Designed by Oleg Cassini, 1941

Unfortunately, the attack on Pearl Harbor soon interrupted his career as a costume designer.  Although he had only lived in America for a few years, he took citizenship in order to fight in WWII with the United States.  He served five years in the US Calvary as a First Lieutenant.

Following the end of his military career, Cassini moved to New York in order to start his own clothing line.  He quickly gained widespread notoriety by his close association with Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.   Appointed “Secretary of Style” in 1961, Cassini became the exclusive couturier to the White House.  He remarked that his desire was to make Jackie Kennedy the most famous First Lady of all time.

Worn by Jackie Kennedy in 1962, it is now on display at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum

Today, his clothing and bridal lines are still worn by countless celebrities. His designs focus on clean lines, luxurious fabrics, and classic garment shapes.

Suit, Evening

courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Object of the Day

Black Beaded Chiffon Dress, 1926


This sleeveless chiffon dress has a low scoop neckline featuring an intricate design of rhinestones and cut-glass bugle beads.  The same trim outlines the elongated waistline and fans upward on the bodice in an art deco butterfly design.

Detail of the butterfly beading design

We’ve been watching the trailer for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby in anticipation of the movie’s release, which was just pushed back to Summer 2013.  In the movie, costume designer, Catherine Martin, takes a few liberties to modernize the flamboyant style of the 1920s.  How do you think this dress from our collection compares to the black sequined gown featured in the trailer?

Click on the 1920s tag below to see other objects from this decade on our blog

Object of the Day

Tan, Coral & Orange Print Chiffon Beaded Dress, 1920s

This dress typifies 1920s style from the height of the decade. Although this dress may not be considered short by today’s standards, hemlines rose sharply in the 1920s arriving between mid-calf to just below the knee.  Shorter dresses showed off a woman’s legs.

During these transformative years, women opted for a new silhouette in stark contrast to previous styles.  This dress shows the columnar silhouette marked by a low waistline at the hips.  The weight of the dress hangs loosely from the shoulders. In this dress, the hips are defined by the vertical bronze beadwork and pink triangles.  Beading became especially popular in the second half of the 1920s.

Detail of the beadwork and textile print

Fabrics in the 1920s became lighter weight with more women choosing silks and chiffons.  The pattern designs became more vibrant and elaborate. This brightly colored geometric print draws influence from the art deco movement.