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

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Object of the Day

Emerald Green Chiffon Gown, 1966

Worn by Lady Bird Johnson

Lady Bird Johnson wore this dress to a state dinner for Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India on her state visit, on March 28, 1966.  President Johnson held a state dinner for Prime Minister Indira Gandhi the year she assumed the office her father had held for 17 years.

The gown is made from emerald green chiffon with the top beaded with green sequins and tiny beads. The gown has a simple round neckline, sleeveless and zips up the back. The dress was donated with a matching chiffon shawl.

Associated Press photo, White House Historical Association, March 28, 1966

Mollie Parnis, who designed many dresses worn by First Ladies from Mamie Eisenhower to Betty Ford, designed this dress. Lady Bird Johnson and Mollie Parnis became close friends during her time as First Lady, Parnis designed Johnson several gowns providing her with her signature look.

Associated Press photo, White House Historical Association, March 28, 1966