“I am definitely not a minimalist designer!” declared the late Arnold Scaasi in this 1990 flashback from an episode Manhattan Cable. “The women who come to me do NOT want to be underdressed” Then, to prove his point, he pulls out frock after frock in shrieking colors and dizzying prints with ruffles, bows, bugle beads, fur, feathers, fringe and paillettes. He explains that the typical Scaasi Girl, as he calls his clients, “are all quite wealthy, very social, and they want to look terrific. They don’t want to look like little mouses.”
In his heyday, Arnold Scaasi designed for first ladies Mamie Eisenhower, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush, as well as Hollywood legends Joan Rivers, Elizabeth Taylor, Diahann Carroll and Mary Tyler Moore. Not a mouse among them.
Said The New York Times of his clothes:
The average woman may not have had use for [his] fripperies, nor been able to afford them, but actresses and singers were drawn to Mr. Scaasi’s flamboyance. He began his work with show business personalities in 1955 by designing for Arlene Francis, the actress and panelist on the game show What’s My Line? He later designed for Joan Crawford when she was making public appearances for Pepsi, and for Claudette Colbert, Sophia Loren and Natalie Wood.
Arnold Scaasi died this week of cardiac arrest, age 85.
Watch the video below (narrated by longtime friend of WOW Bill Judkins). (And please note: I would wear ALL of those outfits!)
Says Randy Barbato of the clip: “I remember it like it was yesterday …. Arnold was so sprite and eager to please! (we even tossed those pieces on the couch for his background!)”
A few of Scaasi’s “greatest hits”: