George Stavropoulos

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George Peter Stavropoulos (1920–1990) was a New York fashion designer best known for his innovatively draped silk chiffon dresses and evening gowns that seemed to float in air.[1] Many of his designs were influenced by the grace of classic Greek sculpture.[2] He was couturier to celebrities such as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand, Maria Callas, and Lady Bird Johnson,[3] and also to a loyal coterie of New York society women some of whom bought his clothes from his first collection in 1960 to his last thirty years later.[4] This gave Stavropoulos a discreet social cachet. In Palm Beach, Florida, people said that the yearly November arrival of Stavropoulos with his new collection was a signal that the social season had started.[5] And if Stavropoulos showed up at a party, his attendance might be chronicled by such gossip columnists as Cindy Adams.[6]

Official White House portrait of Lady Bird Johnson, painted in 1968. The dress was designed by Stavropoulos.[7]

Born in Tripoli, Greece, he showed a talent for design as a teenager. In 1949, he opened a boutique in Athens selling his designs. In 1952, Christian Dior invited him to work with him in Paris; he declined.[8] After marrying an American, he moved to New York and set up shop there in 1961. He was soon discovered by Lady Bird Johnson, who as first lady invited him to White House galas and wore his gowns to state dinners.[9]

His gowns were made almost entirely by hand in his own atelier on Fifty-Seventh Street.[10] Their quality and workmanship rivaled that of Parisian Haute Couture.[11] They were expensive, selling for up to $7500 in the late 1980s.[12] But Stavropoulos ignored fashion trends and women buying one of his gowns knew that it would never go out of style.[13]