Fashion Hall of Obscurity – Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes

Born June 28, 1905 Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes grew up in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and learned how to design and sew at her uncle’s tailoring shop in White Plains, New York.

In 1948 she opened her own boutique called ‘Chez Zelda’ at Broadway and West 158th street in New York where she made clothes for stars including: Dorothy Dandridge, Eartha Kitt, Ella Fitzgerald, and Jessye Norman. By the late 1950s she had moved her shop to midtown at 57th street.

Her most famous commission came in 1959 when she was hired to design the bunny costume for the first Playboy club, which opened in Chicago on February 29, 1960.

In 1970 she was asked to design costumes for the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She continued to design dance costumes for them until her death in September, 2001, 12 years after closing her regular business.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.

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