Oleg Cassini

Oleg Cassini

Born on 11 April 1913, Oleg Cassini was a famous American fashion designer born in Paris, France to a Russian diplomat.

The 1918 Russian Revolution caused the Loiewski folks to flee from their homes, lands, wealth and life. During this time, Oleg witnessed the murder of his cousin – he was shot to death. The family reached their first destination Denmark and then migrated to Switzerland. They finally settled in the Florence.

At the time when he had to start school, Oleg was required to learn Italian language even though he knew Danish, French and Russian. The scope of fashion in the family was set up by his mother who founded a fashion house and got American buyers from contacts there.

Oleg was very much fond of sports and joined the teenage soccer team. He was also on the university ski and track teams. Moreover he played tennis for Jr. Davis Cup and won the tournament.

Oleg went to University of Florence to study Political Science and became a successful equestrian. Then under Giorgio de Chirico (painter), Oleg studied the fine art at the Accademia di Belle Arti Firenze. After all the political and artistic education, he started to focus on the field of fashion. He began studying under Jean Patou. Oleg’s designs impressed people around the world and he won several international contests of fashion in Turin. Soon the ambitious designer opened his store in Rome and started designing for Roman films.

He got engaged to Anna Donnina Toeplitz, a Roman debutante, and as a result left for United States. For a short while, he worked in Washington D.C. as a political cartoonist.

After arriving in Hollywood, he continued his tennis playing interest at the West Side Tennis Club and won a tournament. Post his victory, his partner revealed his identity as the Paramount Pictures head and told Oleg that they were seeking a designer. The very next day Oleg got employed as a full-time designer.  His first film was I Wanted Wings (1941) and created the look for Veronica Lake, a newcomer and the lead of the movie.

In addition to this, he designed costumes for many films including Tales of Manhattan, 1942; The Razor’s Edge, 1946; Born to Speed, 1947; That Wonderful Urge, 1948; Rampage, 1963 and The Ambushers, 1967 among others. He dressed a number of stars throughout his career such as Betty Grable, Joan Crawford, Rita Hayworth, Natalie Wood, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Ursula Andress and Suzy Parker.

During the Second World War in the Pearl Harbor attack, he had to enlist in the war efforts urgently. At first he joined the United States Coast Guard and later the U.S. Army. Due to his services, Oleg became a naturalized citizen of the country as a reward and was commissioned at Fort Riley in Kansas as a First Lieutenant. In 1952, he opened a fashion house in the heart of fashion industry that is New York.

Moreover, he served in Humanitarian causes and won awards for it too. The designer also wrote books and appeared on many television shows that aired around the world in different languages.

Oleg married Mary Fahrney at first in 1938 but they got divorced after 2 years. He later married Gene Tierney (actress) in 1941 with whom he had a daugter, Antoinette Daria though the two separated in 1946. Later on he was in a relationship with Grace Kelly until she died in 1991.

Oleg Cassini died in 2006 due to the after effects of Aneurysm in New York.