Story by Megan Osborne
Arnold Scaasi (May 8, 1930 — August 4, 2015) Born Arnold Isaacs in Montréal, Québec, Canada, Scaasi was interested in fashion design from a very young age. His father worked as a furrier, and Arnold also spent time in Australia as a young teenager with his very fashionable Aunt. He was highly influenced by her couture wardrobe filled with designer names like Chanel and Schiaparelli.
After attending fashion design programs in Montréal and Paris Arnold was noticed by the Parisian fashion industry. He apprenticed at Paquin, one of the most important couture houses of the time. He was then offered a position at the House of Dior but, not wanting to wait for the next collection debut to begin his work, with Dior’s encouragement he set his sights on New York City.
Scaasi arrived in New York with a letter of introduction written by Christian Dior himself, who suggested Arnold should enquire at the studio of renowned American designer Charles James. Scaasi worked with James before striking out on his own. He quickly found success in the New York fashion scene and was awarded the 1958 Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award, considered to be one of the most prestigious honors in the American fashion industry.
This ensemble from Scaasi’s 1981 fall collection is the embodiment of his unique ready-to-wear aesthetic. Here, a grey silk taffeta bodice is topped with an elegant three-dimensional bow at the neck. The bodice tucks into a thick rich plaid wool skirt, which is fully lined in silk chiffon. The dress is paired with a matching grey wool swing coat that features a lining made of the same plaid used for the skirt. A matching lining between components of a singular outfit was one of the signature elements Scaasi used throughout his design career.
Visit the Avenir Museum’s Scaasi: Elegance and Glamor from Day to Night now through July 30th to see this stunning creation alongside twenty-five other original designs by Arnold Scaasi.