Black Fashion History with KW – Zelda Wynn Valdes, 1940s

Zelda Wynn Valdes, Fashion/Costume Designer 

Zelda Wynn Valdes
Zelda Wynn Valdes

One of Hollywood’s earlier black designers, Zelda Wynn Valdes was an African-American fashion designer and costumer who dressed the most notable black women in her era such as: including Joyce Bryant, Dorothy Dandridge, Josephine Baker, Marian Anderson, Ella Fitzgerald and Mae West.

Eventually, Playboy’s Hugh Hefner took notice of Valdes’ signature alluring and sexy curve-hugging styles and he commissioned her to design the first-ever Playboy Bunny costumes. She is also famous for designing costumes at the Dance Theater of Harlem.

Playboy Club Party In NY
Playboy Club Party In NY. Designs by Zelda

Another one of Valdes’ crowning moments is when she opened her own shop, “Chez Zelda,”in 1948,  on Broadway in New York.  It was the first in the area to be owned by an African American. Valdes worked until she was 83 years old, closing her shop and retiring from fashion after many years and accolades. This is an inspiration for me and many other young black designers working on our craft. #blackfashionmatters

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