|Born||Oleg Cassini Loiewski
April 11, 1913
|Died||March 17, 2006
Manhasset, New York, U.S.
Oleg Cassini (11 April 1913 – 17 March 2006) was a French-born American fashion designer. Cassini dressed numerous stars creating some of the most memorable moments in international fashion and film. With his designs for Jacqueline Kennedy he garnered admiration and even awe, for American fashion design.
Oleg Cassini’s designs for the First Lady, ‘The Jackie Look’ are recognized as being the "single biggest fashion influence in history" by film costume designer, Edith Head. Cassini's contemporary designs such as the A-line, Sheath and the Empire Strapless continue to remain influential and predominant today.
His passions including sports and Native American culture fueled his work with freshness and imagination, creating innovative looks fueled by his very personal feeling that: "To be well dressed is a little like being in love."
Early life 
He was born in Paris as Oleg Cassini Loiewski, the elder son of Countess Marguerite Cassini and her husband, Count Alexander Loiewski. His father was a Russian diplomat, and his maternal grandfather, Arthur Paul Nicholas Cassini, Marquis de Capuzzuchi di Bologna, Count Cassini, was the Russian ambassador to the United States during the administrations of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. In 1918, the violence of the Russian Revolution caused the family to flee for their lives, leaving behind their wealth, lands, homes, nationality and a long lineage which traced back to astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini. Cassini recounts seeing his cousin shot in front of him during this time. The family arrived in Denmark, under the Ambassadorial station of Cassini's father, then, to Switzerland. The Greek Royal family invited the Cassini family to Greece. Cassini recounts that on the way to Greece, the train stops in Italy, where newspapers headline the revolution in Greece. The family remained in Italy, settling in Florence.
In his early youth, he suffered a major accident, almost lost his leg, and spent a year in bed recovering, studying history and reading books, authors like James Fenimore Cooper, and developing his love for history and the mysticism of Native American Indian tribes. He discovered American culture through the American movies playing during this time in Italy. He would later quip, "The American Cowboy is the best dressed man."
Oleg went to school and had to learn to speak Italian. At that time, Oleg only spoke French, Russian and Danish. Oleg was quoted on the subject, “I had to adjust from caviar to linguini”. His mother, Marguerite Cassini, founded her fashion house in Florence with many of the American clients she retained from her days in Washington as the daughter of the Russian Ambassador.
Cassini played soccer with the teenage team, the 'Boys' of Fiorentina, was on the university track team and skied on the university team with childhood friend, designer Emilio Pucci, as well as played tennis for the Italian Jr. Davis Cup team becoming Italian Jr. Champion.
Cassini went on to become an accomplished equestrian and studied Political Science at the University of Florence. He went on to study fine art at the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze, studying under Giorgio de Chirico and eventually gravitated to his mother’s career, fashion, when he studied under the French couturier, Jean Patou. He won a number of international fashion competitions in Turin including five first prizes in Mostra Della Moda for sketches and Most Creative Presentation, (an evening dress painted in dramatic colors on silver foil - 5000 lire prize). Cassini opened his own boutique in Rome and designed for films (shot in Rome) as well as Roman society.
Move to America 
Oleg became engaged to a debutante in Rome, Anna Donnina Toeplitz, and subsequently left for America after winning a duel. Oleg sailed to America on the Saturnia and arrived in New York on Christmas Day 1936. His autobiography describes his possessions upon arrival in America as being limited to a tuxedo, two tennis rackets, a title and talent.
Cassini briefly worked as a political cartoonist in Washington DC upon his arrival prior to traveling to Hollywood CA.
Hollywood, California 
Upon arriving in California, Cassini began playing tennis at the West Side Tennis Club. After competing in and winning a doubles tournament, his partner from the tournament introduced himself as the head of Paramount Pictures who was, "looking for another designer". Cassini brought his sketches to the studio the next day and got the job as a full designer for Paramount Pictures. In 1941, his first film was I Wanted Wings, creating the look for its star, newcomer Veronica Lake.
Among the films Cassini costumed for were The Shanghai Gesture, a 1941 film by Josef von Sternberg, which starred actress Gene Tierney., Tales of Manhattan (1942) for Rita Hayworth, The Razor’s Edge (1946), It's a Joke Son! (1947), Born to Speed (1947), Lost Honeymoon (1947), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), That Wonderful Urge (1948), Whirlpool (1949), Night and the City (1950), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), in which Cassini appeared as a fashion designer, as well as The Mating Season, Close to My Heart, On the Riviera (all 1951), Rampage (1963), The Tammy Grimes Show (1966), The Day Dreamer (1966), Peligro...! Mujeres en acción, (1967), The Ambushers (1967) for Dean Martin, SOS Conspiracion Bikini (1967), The Sentinel (2006) for Kim Basinger and Say It in Russian (2007) for Faye Dunaway.
Cassini worked for the major film studios and dressed numerous movie stars and celebrities over the course of his career including Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable, Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, Ursula Andress, Jayne Mansfield, Sandra Dee, Suzy Parker, Gina Lollobrigida, Renée Zellweger, Malin Åkerman, Kim Basinger, and Taylor Swift.
World War II 
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Oleg quickly enlisted in the war effort. Initially, he joined the United States Coast Guard, but he later served in the U.S. Army as a cavalry officer. Cassini took United States citizenship and became a First Lieutenant in the United States Army during World War II at Fort Riley, Kansas. After serving five years in the U.S. Cavalry during World War II, with Ronald Reagan, First Lieutenant Cassini returned to New York in 1952 to open his own fashion house on Seventh Avenue.
New York, New York 
After the war, Cassini designed ready-to-wear dresses while continuing to design for television, motion pictures, and Broadway theatre. According to his autobiography, Jack Warner offered Cassini the position of head of design for Warner Brothers Pictures proclaiming, "You're better than Errol Flynn". Cassini remained in New York rather than work with Warner Brothers and opened his own designer brand. Cassini had enough money to launch one line, his first Collection, which was received with rave reviews. Head of Lord & Taylor, Dorothy Shaver, provided the Oleg Cassini Collection the entirety of the store's Fifth Avenue store front windows to launch the collection. Cassini also took his designs "on the road" to his customers in trunk shows and special fashion events in order to promote the new lines. The in store events evolved into the emerging medium of television and Cassini displayed his product on Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Dinah Shore, Phil Donahue, and Good Morning America. Notably, the The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson provided nightly recognition as Mr. Carson had a line designed for him that he would wear exclusively for the show.
His reputation developed as a result of his genius for original spontaneous design and in 1953, shortly before her marriage to John Kennedy, Cassini met Jacqueline Bouvier, named by his brother, society columnist Cholly Knickerbocker as "Queen Deb of the Year" in 1947.
Secretary of Style to the White House 
“Oleg, you are, and will be in fashion history, the designer who created the indelible and stylish image for the First Lady. You should be proud of your achievement, you are the designer who inaugurated her style.” - Suzy Menkes Fashion Editor; International Herald Tribune, 2003.
Cassini’s appointment by Jacqueline Kennedy as her exclusive couturier in 1961 dubbed him her "Secretary of Style" and provided him a position of prestige. “We are on the threshold of a new American elegance thanks to Mrs. Kennedy’s beauty, naturalness, understatement, exposure and symbolism,” Cassini said when his selection as the couturier to shape the entire look of the First Lady was announced.
Utilizing the technique and high fashion fabrics of French couture, Cassini’s unique designs for Jacqueline Kennedy ushered in a new era of timeless simplicity based on clean lines and crisp forms and opulent and luxurious fabrics. Cassini brought American design to the world stage as the First Lady’s identity became synonymous with sophistication and taste. The “Jackie look” that he created was copied by women all over the world. Cassini visualized her as an American Queen and as Mrs. Kennedy said herself, “Oleg dressed me for the part”.
The publicity that Cassini's work for Mrs. Kennedy received led women from 18 to 80 to copy the look of simple, geometric dresses in sumptuous fabrics and pillbox hats with an elegant coiffure. Meticulously tailored and featuring oversized buttons and boxy jackets, as well as occasionally dramatic décolletage. Cassini designed a reported 300 outfits for the First Lady, including a much-copied coat made of leopard pelts and a Swiss double satin white gown decorated by a single cocarde which she wore to the Inaugural Gala Ball in 1961. This was Mrs. Kennedy's first official appearance as First Lady Elect. The ball was hosted by Frank Sinatra. The dress was subsequently named one of the "50 Dresses that Changed the World" by the Design Museum in England. In 1961, Eugenia Sheppard announced in the New York Herald Tribune "According to Tobe's most recent coast to coast survey, the best known name in American fashion is Oleg Cassini."
“All I remember about those days are nerves, and Jackie on the phone ‘Hurry, hurry, Oleg, I’ve got nothing to wear’,” he wrote in his 1995 book, A Thousand Days of Magic: Dressing Jacqueline Kennedy for the White House. His designs were shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2001 in its exhibit Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years. In 1966 the Philadelphia Inquirer reported polling results indicating Cassini as the best known designer in America and stated, "At the moment, there are actually only two fashion labels, Christian Dior and Oleg Cassini which are widely known."
Designer licensing 
Oleg Cassini is considered the father and innovator of designer licensing. Cassini said he took his inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci. Cassini was the recipient of a Doctorate of Fine Arts, in 1989, According to his autobiography, the Cassini design rationale is: By putting his name and his magic touch on everything from fashion to fragrance, Cassini has given millions of Americans a little bit of aristocracy to call their own. Oleg Cassini, a minimalist designer, always felt that "Simplicity is perfection", and that "Clothing is an envelope for the body", using classic shapes and forms to highlight women’s beauty.
His name adorned everything from luggage to nail polish, as well as special luxurious coupé versions of the 1974 and 1975 AMC Matador automobile. Outside, striping, rub rails, wheel covers and a crest mark the Matador as Cassini's." Cassini himself helped promote the car in AMC's advertising. The special Oleg Cassini Matador was positioned in the popular and highly competitive "personal luxury car" market segment. The "distinctive" styling of the Cassini "designer editions" merit collector interest
A 1983 Gallup poll stated that the top three best known designer names are Cassini, Chanel, and Dior.
The Oleg Cassini Brand he designed has been worn by many celebrities including Rita Hayworth, Nancy Kwan, Joan Crawford, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Natalie Wood, Ursula Andress, Jayne Mansfield, Sandra Dee, Carroll Baker, Suzy Parker, Gina Lollobrigida, Renée Zellweger, Malin Åkerman and Taylor Swift.
In 1960, with his brother, society columnist, Igor, opens Le Club, which becomes the number one private club in the world with members, Gianni Agnelli, Maharajah of Jaipur, Stavros Niarchos, Aristotle Onassis, and Ray Stark. In 1960 Oleg Cassini is named personal couturier by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, launching the Jackie look in 1961.He was awarded the Chicago Gold Coast Award for Excellence in Design. In 1962, he is awarded the National Cystic Fibrosis Distinguished Service Citation.
In 1967, he created deep tonal shirts for men adding special colors where there had only been white. The sales of dress shirts raised dramatically, and the look is launched on the NBC Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Oleg signed Johnny Carson the first celebrity model and created the "Johnny Carson" line of Men's wear. In 1968, the Peacock Revolution is hailed by Newsweek, wherein Cassini is credited with leading a revolution in men's fashion worldwide. Nehru suits, The Blazer Look, The Blue Jean Look, The Western Look, The Battle Jacket Suit, and the Turtleneck with Tuxedo are subsequently launched by Peter Lawford modeling the look on the national TV show, The Mike Douglas Show. In 1968, Cassini returned to Italy and created Italian print collections and in 1969, he was awarded the Award Eccellenza in Disegno Milano, Italia. Cassini was often featured personally in advertisements for his fashion line, which won industry awards. Specifically, one advertisement featured Cassini in jacket and tie sans shirt stating "Oleg Cassini had to make his own shirts. Nothing around was good enough for him".
The "Competitors" Collection menswear campaign was also launched by Cassini. It featured icons of sport wearing Cassini including: Ted Turner for sailing, Bob Hope and Raymond Floyd for golf, Michael Jordan for basketball, Mario Andretti for racing, Gary Carter for baseball, Lynn Swann and Lawrence Taylor for football and Charlton Heston, Regis Philbin and Kenny Rogers for tennis.
In 2003 The Council of Fashion Designers of America Board of Directors noted Cassini's extraordinary design achievements with their first ever, Board of Directors Special Tribute. The presentation was made to Oleg by President Stan Herman and Diane von Furstenberg.
Oleg Cassini excelled at tennis and competed seriously since his early days as a ranked Italian Junior Davis Cup player. His skill at tennis led to a fortunate design connection. Recounted in his autobiography, newly arrived in Hollywood, Cassini would play tennis at the prestigious West Side Tennis Club which led to a doubles game with the head of Paramount Pictures. Decades later, Cassini also created collections of printed and multi color tennis wear, bringing 'color to the court'. He is noted for having outfitted the US Davis Cup team and for participating in celebrity pro-am tournaments such as the Alan King Tournament in Las Vegas. Cassini also participated and won the 5th Annual RFK Pro Celebrity Tennis Tournament in 1976. The silver winner’s cup was presented to him personally by Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
Cassini competed professionally in the sport of harness racing. In 1985 he earned a professional harness racer license and won races at the Meadowlands Raceway, Yonkers Raceway, Freehold Raceway, Monticello Raceway and Roosevelt Raceway. Cassini received awards in recognition of his efforts to support equine charities from "HORSE" and "The Equine Society" which recognized Cassini with its Man of the year award.
Oleg Cassini was a lover of animals and an advocate of animal welfare. He received the James Herriot Award (All Creatures Great and Small) as the Man of the Year from the Humane Society of the United States. Cassini was lauded for his work and care for animals by the Humane Society of the USA - HSUS. He created collections of manmade fashion fur, the 'evolutionary furs'.
In 1999, Oleg was awarded the Humanitarian Award at a fashion show and Gala at the National Building Museum in Washington DC, honorary chairpersons Eunice Shriver and Senator Ted Kennedy, show hosted by Montel Williams. Among the 40 models were movie starTippi Hedren. In his own words "What we're designing is as elegant and attractive as fur and eliminates the enormous cruelty that goes on in the killing of animals for fur."
Cassini's autobiography states Cassini provided the suggestion to President Kennedy to take steps to organize The Bureau of Indian Affairs, the action which led to the American Indian Movement. Cassini was named an honorary member of the Chickasaw and Navajo nations in 1981 due to his fund raising and organization of gala charity events for the tribes. Cassini and his brother, Igor under the pen name of society columnist Cholly Knickerbocker, threw "The Knickerbocker Charity Balls" to raise money for the tribes. In addition to organizing events, Cassini participated on The 64,000 Dollar Question donating $32,000 in winnings to the tribal charities.
Books and television 
An author of best-selling books, In My Own Fashion, A Thousand Days of Magic - Dressing Jacqueline Kennedy for the White House a visually beautiful book which is a tribute to Jacqueline Kennedy and reflects the magical period of Camelot and the "Jackie Look", and Oleg Cassini – The Wedding Dress.
Oleg Cassini appeared on hundreds of television shows worldwide in many languages and also hosted a special 13-part TV series, Conversations with Cassini, on the Arts & Entertainment Network. Some of the guest stars were: Senator Ted Kennedy, Bob Hope, Anthony Quinn, Ilie Năstase, Martina Navratilova, Bo Derek, Angie Dickinson, George Hamilton, Kenny Rogers, Alan King, and Telly Savalas.
Personal life 
Before moving from Italy to the United States Cassini was engaged to debutante Donnina Toepitz, later Donnina Cicogna.
On 2 September 1938, in Elkton, Maryland, Cassini became the husband of Mary “Merry” Fahrney. The couple divorced in 1940.
Cassini married actress Gene Tierney, on 2 June 1941. Antoinette Daria was born October 15, 1943, mentally retarded, due to her mother's bout during pregnancy with German measles. The couple separated on 20 October 1946, and entered into a property settlement agreement on 10 November 1946. Tierney won an uncontested divorce in California on 13 March 1947, and finalized the divorce one year later: 13 March 1948. It was reported by the Los Angeles Times that the couple reconciled on 19 April 1948, but did not remarry. Christina "Tina" was born on 19 November 1948. Another divorce action was filed in Los Angeles, California, on 28 February 1952, and the final decree was granted on 8 April 1953.
After his divorce from Tierney, Cassini dated and was engaged to Grace Kelly. He and Tierney remained friends until her 1991 death, when she bequeathed one dollar to her daughter Daria and the residue to Christina. Cassini was quoted as saying, “Gene is the luckiest, unlucky girl in the world, all of her dreams came true, at a cost.”
Cassini died from complications of an aneurysm in Manhasset, New York, in 2006. He is buried in the Cemetery of the Holy Rood in Westbury, New York. A wake was held on Wednesday, March 22, 2006, at the Frank E. Campbell The Funeral Chapel of Manhattan. A Funeral Mass was held the following day at Our Lady of the Sign-Russian Orthodox Church of America in Manhattan's upper east side. He was interred at Cemetery of the Holy Rood, in Westbury, CT. In addition to his wife, the former Marianne Nestor, whom he married in 1971, Mr. Cassini was survived by two daughters, Antoinette Daria Cassini and Christina Cassini-Belmont, and four grandchildren. Daughter Daria Cassini died on September 11, 2010, a month before her 67th birthday. Daria was interred alongside her mother at Glenwood Cemetery, in Houston, TX.
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- Cassini, Oleg (2011). The Wedding Dress. Rizzoli. ISBN 0-8478-3280-5.
- Cassini, Oleg (1987). In my Own Fashion. Simon & Schuster. p. 379. ISBN 0-671-62640-X.
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- "Ready or Not (2009)". IMDB. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
- Logan, Walter (21 December 1970). "Johnny Carson Stylish Tycoon". Schenectady Gazette. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
- Cassini, Oleg (1995). A Thousand Days of Magic. Rizzoli. ISBN 0-8478-1900-0.
- Design Museum (2009). 50 Dresses that Changed the World. Conran. p. 112. ISBN 1-84091-538-2.
- Cassini, Oleg. "Oleg Cassini". Odea Fashion New York. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- Cassini, Oleg. "Encyclopedia of Brittanica". Encyclopedia of Brittanica Online Volumes. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
- "Oleg Cassini put his special touch to the newest design in automobiles introduced for 1974". Archived from the original on 29 February 2009. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- Hartford, Bill (October 1973). "Something ole, something new from AMC!". Popular Mechanics 140 (4): 114. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- Peters, Eric (2011). Road Hogs: Detroit's Big, Beautiful Luxury Performance Cars of the 1960s-70s. Motorbooks. pp. 96–99. ISBN 978-0-7603-3764-6. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- Gunnell, John (2004). Standard Catalog of Thunderbird: 1955-2004. KP Books. p. 110. ISBN 978-0-87349-756-5. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
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- "Male Plumage '68". Newsweek. 25 November 1968.
- Daily News Record (June 14, 1985). "Cassini clothing to feature 10 celebrities.". DNR. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
- "Past Winners of Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards". Council of Fashion Designers of America. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- Dale, Deep. "Farewell Flirt". New York Post. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
- Lenburg, Jeff (2001). Dudley Moore: An Informal Biography. iUniverse. p. 63. ISBN 978-0-595-18268-8. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
- "The Humane Society of the United States". fundinguniverse.com. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- "The Humane Society of the United States". hennet.org. 1999-05-31. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
- Cassini, Oleg (August 25, 1981). "People in the News". Eugene Register Guard. p. 8a. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
- Cassini, Oleg (1995). A Thousand Days of Magic. Rizzoli. p. 224. ISBN 0-8478-1900-0.
- "Conversations with Cassini". www.inbaseline.com. Retrieved 5 March 2012.[dead link]
- Hedda, Hopper (9 April 1948). "Gene Tierney and Mate Reconciled". Los Angeles Times. p. 2.
- Tierney, pp. 135–45.
- Jacobs, Laura (May 2010). "Grace Kelly's Forever Look". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 21 September 2012.
- Tierney, Gene. "Will of Gene Tierney". Harris County Public Records. Harris County Public Records. Retrieved 20 February 2012.
- Gene Tierney: A Shattered Portrait, The Biography Channel 03/26/1999, interview Oleg Cassini.
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