In 2015, HCTC did an blog post about Arnold Scaasi’s red and green dresses. Today we give you an updated article with more information about Scassi, the mastermind behind the detailed, bold, and creative designs of the “Scassi girls”. From his early days to his last, Arnold Scassi became well known for his looks like no other. How did he get his start? Why are his clothes so special to so many people? Why are we celebrating his designs this Christmas season? There’s so much to one man’s life. Scassi’s passion for creativity has a special place in the world of fashion and continues to excite us with his looks from the past.
Arnold Scassi was actually born Arnold Issacs in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on May 8, 1930. He received a natural talent for fashion from his father, a furrier, and his Aunt Ida, a stylish individual whom he visited in Australia just at the age of 14. After the visit with his aunt, he felt a calling to the fashion and design industry. He attended Cotnoir-Capponi School of Design. Later on, he completed his education in Paris and went on to apprentice with House of Paquin. He began his next journey by moving to New York City. Well known designer, Christian Dior urged him to go back to the United States and work with Charles James, a designer best known for his ball gowns who influenced many designers with his aesthetic style. Scassi listened to Dior and went to work with James.
He started to receive recognition for his talent through General Motors after they placed his work in an ad. Through advertisement and photoshoots of his work, he met a man named Robert Denning. He persuaded Scassi to reverse his then last name “Issacs” to “Scassi”. It gave it an Italian flair. By 1955, his name appeared on the front cover of Vogue Magazine. As time went on, he received awards and climbed the ladder of fashion world. Eventually, he opened his own store selling to celebrities and socialites. His work was unique, bold, and fabulous. Dresses were trimmed with feathers and fur, sequins and more.
Then, the moment came when he basically became famous overnight. In 1968, Barbera Streisand tied for best actress along with Kathrine Hepburn. However, Streisand’s outfit was perhaps the star of the night. She wore a sheer over blouse and pants ensemble. It caught the attention of fashion world that night.
His career led him down an even greater path. He went on to design for the biggest names in celebrities and socialites. These included Joan rivers, Joan Crawford, Mary Tyler Moore, Barbera Bush and four other president’s wives. He made his mark especially in the eighties. His big bold looks, flamboyant colors, and big accessories made is work even more special. One publicist, Jody Donohue, said, “He was able to make clothes that made a woman feel very femimine and he had a number of splendid clients who just adored him and who insisted on working with him. “Scassi learned a great deal of his ideas through the influence of Charles James. A “nonapologetic color sense” is one idea Scassi took from him. One of his biggest flaws, however, was his demanding, sometimes snappy, personality. However, this is part of what made Scaasi Scassi. Donohue later added, “No matter how aggressive he could be, he always rallied people.”
To the left is one of Scaasi’s. It is a long green silk taffeta sheath gown from 1988. It is a wonderful representation of his designs at the time with the bold color, large shoulders, feminine cut, and over-the-top look. This was eventually featured in a book by Bernadine Morris and Liz Smith entitled A Cut Above. It is also perfect for the Christmas season. Red and Green are the two most popular colors at Christmas time. The green color comes form the idea of evergreens, mistletoe, and ivy in the winter. They often stand for eternal life, a new life, longevity, or regeneration. Red has a much more religious background. The color is a symbol of he fall of man an their salvation. St. Nicholas, the historical figure that influenced our modern Santa Claus, was also said to have worn a red robe.
The next dress to the right is also one of Scaasi’s. It is a short red lace taffeta and long sleeve cocktail dress. This one is perfect for that special holiday party this season. Again, it is also a perfect representation being from 1987. The detailed lace, added sparkle, shoulder padding, and bold colors are all Scaasi. For even more information about these two dresses plus 2 more, check out the blog post from 2015! http://u.osu.edu/clotheslines/2015/12/
Feitelberg, Rosemary; Koski, Lorna.(Augus 4, 2015).Arnold Scaasi, American Designer and Confident First Ladies, Dies at 85. Retrievend from https://wwd.com/fashion-news/designer-luxury/arnold-scaasi-dies-at-10196546/
(August 31, 2018). Arnold Scaasi. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Scaasi