Uptown designer Arnold Scaasi – whose pouffy, polka-dotted, beaded, and big-bowed gowns were staples for giddy society debs and stalwart Park Avenue doyennes for decades – has died of cardiac arrest, according to the columnist Liz Smith, a longtime friend. He was 85. Although he had been around forever, he is mostly associated (in my mind at least) with the ’80s when his aesthetic dovetailed perfectly with the prevailing trends of the time. Think Ivana Trump at her MOST Ivana Trumpish and Scassi was probably responsible for the look. God bless.
Says the Associated Press:
Designer Arnold Scaasi, whose flamboyant creations adorned first ladies, movie stars and socialites, has died.
Scaasi — which was his given name, Isaacs, spelled backward — specialized in made-to-order clothes, often in ornate, brilliantly colored fabrics and trimmings like beads and ostrich feathers.
However, one of his most famous designs was a flimsy lace pantsuit designed for Barbra Streisand‘s Oscar appearance in 1969, when she won for “Funny Girl” in a tie with Katharine Hepburn. It featured bell-bottom pants and matching top in spangly black lace, and the thin fabric used created the impression of nudity.
Adds the Palm Beach Daily News
Mr. Scaasi’s designs were never androgynous. His work was famous for its lush material and decidedly feminine cut that displayed the curves of a woman’s body.
He also designed for Jacqueline Kennedy, but only when she was a senator’s wife, as he was expected to dress her at no charge once she became First Lady, which he refused to do.
Mr. Scaasi’s clients included Claudette Colbert, Elizabeth Taylor, first ladies Barbara and Laura Bush, and Palm Beachers Rose Kennedy, Eunice Shriver, Mary Sanford, Audrey Gruss, Pauline Pitt, Eles Gillet, Betty Scripps, Maura Benjamin, Barton Gubelmann, and Dina Merrill.
My friend Alan Rosenberg summed him up on Facebook this morning by saying “When he was good he was marvelous and when he was bad he was really atrocious.” Which is oh-so true. But GODDAMN, I loved his atrocious ’80s designs like no other.
And now I’m going to spend the rest of the day eBaying some of those super-tacky ’80s gowns and reliving my glory days.