Zelda Wynn Valdes was an African-American fashion designer and costumer. Valdes hailed from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Learning her trade from her Grandmother and while working with her uncle in his White Plains, New York tailoring shop.
Valdes Strikes Out on Her Own
Zelda's designer pieces have draped some of the most curvaceous and famous women of the era such as Eartha Kitt, Mae West, Dorothy Dandridge, Josephine Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Ruby Dee, Sarah Vaughan, Marian Anderson, and many others.
In 1948, Valdes opened her own boutique and christened it "Chez Zelda" in Manhattan on Broadway in New York
Ms. Valdes' fashion glamorous designs concentrate on accentuating the wearer's figure. This reason is why her line caught the eye of Hugh Hefner, owner of the Playboy Corporation.
The design of the original Playboy uniform aka Playboy Bunny Costume has been partly attributed to Ms. Valdes.
In 1970 Arthur Mitchell needed a designer for his new dance company, the Dance Theatre of Harlem and persuaded Zelda to become the head costume designer for the company. The position obviously agreed with her, she spent the next eighteen years in its employ and at eighty-three years old retired.
Zelda Wynn Valdes' Legacy
Ms. Valdes was a pioneer of color who designed and costumed other pioneer females who graced the entertainment industry of her time. Assisting these women in celebrating themselves physically and building their confidence. Zelda built her client base and business herself in a time of oppression for women and Blacks. Not often is one blessed to work at something they love and at the same time pave the road for other Afro-American's to aspire.