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Arnold Scaasi: The last of his kind

Posted by Reem
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Arnold Scaasi, right, in 1962.

Arnold Scaasi had a talent for capturing the imagination in the most ornate and impactful of ways. He had an eye for elegance and a way of complementing the female form. The Canadian born designer is in part credited with ushering in the age of American glamour in the late 1950s and 1960s, alongside British-born Couturier Charles James, to whom he was a protégé. The 85-year-old fashion pioneer passed away Monday and beyond the clothes, fashion and news publications alike marveled at the innovation and accomplishments Scaasi enjoyed throughout his life.

Born Arnold Isaacs, the designer changed his last name to reflect his glamorous European influenced aesthetic, but as The Cut reports, it was a decision to avoid the Paris fashion scene following his apprenticeship in France that altered his career path and fashion history. After studying in Montreal at Cotnoir-Capponi School of Design, The Cut reports Scaasi turned down a job with Christian Dior to focus on the American market.

He would dress American royalty, from Hollywood starlets to first ladies throughout the decades and he did so with such elegance while maintaining an air of sensuality. In contrast to Charles James whose tailoring and extravagance was a picture of the times, Scassi captured ease and glamour with modern sensibilities; the kind of Americana the world remains nostalgic for.

Long before revealing red carpet dresses were commonplace, the designer scandalized the 1969 Oscars when he dressed Barbara Streisand in a sheer Peter Pan collared jumpsuit. He dressed the great women of our time, from Lauren Bacall to Liz Taylor, Jackie Kennedy to Hilary Clinton. In the age of fast fashion and 15 minutes of fame, it leaves one wondering if the world will ever see anyone as consistently innovative or effective leave a legacy the way Arnold Scaasi did.

(L) Arnold Scaasi, photo by Sharland, 1956. (R) Arnold Scaasi, center, walks with two models at his studio in Paris in 1972.

 

(L) Sunny Harnett in Scaasi, 1957. (R) Model in Scaasi dress, 1959.

 

(L) Arnold Scaasi, 1958. (R) Scaasi Couture, 1960.

 

(L) Scaasi with model, 1961. (R) Whilemina in Scaasi by Irving Penn, 1965.

 

(L) Barbara Streisand in Arnold Scaasi, 1970. (R) Barbara Streisand at The Oscars in Arnold Scaasi, 1969.

 

(L) Veruschka wearing whirligig striped evening pajamas by Arnold Scaasi. (R) Arnold Scaasi with Lauren Bacall, 1959.

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