Friday, July 12, 2013


Oleg Cassini
Photography: Timothy Galfas

In May of 1950, Oleg Cassini presented his first eponymous fall fashion collection developed with the help of a one-hundred thousand dollar loan acquired from the millionaire boyfriend of a friend, the model Barbara Dunne.

A connoisseur of  women as well as fashion, Cassini played escort to a string of American beauties before and during his successful career as a designer.  He also wed a few. His first wife, Merry Fahrney, was an heiress who inherited millions from a cough syrup patent developed by her grandfather,  Dr. Parker Fahrney, of Chicago. His next wife was the actress Gene Tierney. His most reported romance was with Grace Kelly. They become engaged just prior to her leaving New York for the French Riviera to film To Catch A Thief  and her subsequent fateful meeting with  Prince Ranier. 

The gossip columnists Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons wrote endless words of distaste for the proposed union of Cassini and Kelly. Hedda Hopper wondered in print, "Why, with all the good-looking men around, has Grace Kelly chosen Oleg Cassini?" Concluded Hopper, "It must be the mustache."

This prompted Cassini to send her a telegram. "Okay, Hedda, I give up. I'll shave mine if you shave yours."

Beth Arrison - The Stocking Song

Cassini and Carroll Baker

Cassini and Carol Channing

Cassini and Suzy Parker

Cassini and Elizabeth Ashley

Cassini Amidst Mid-Sixties Legs

Where's Waldo?

"One day a real estate agent called and said, '"Mr. Cassini, I think I have the house for you, but you will have to use your imagination."' She took me to Gramercy Park. I walked into the foyer, and fell in love. It was a place unlike any other in New York, a sixteenth-century Dutch house transported brick by brick from Europe by the Wells Fargo family in the early twentieth century."

"It was completely bare, there was no furniture and it was dusty, dirty. It needed a coat of paint. I was reminded of a beautiful girl who needed only a different hairstyle or dress, to shine."

"This inspired me in business too. I organized a coordinated sales theme for the fifteen franchises I held at the time: The Renaissance Look from the House of Cassini. The advertising campaign featured a photograph of me standing in the window of my new home, with Renaissance-inspired dresses, men's wear, gloves, shoes, jewelry, furs, hosiery, lingerie."

"And so, franchising blossomed."

 In My Own Fashion Oleg Cassini

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