My little known Black History Moment – Zelda Wynn Valdes
Ms. Valdes was an African-American Fashion designer. She was born on June 28, 1905 in Chambersbury, PA. She began her fashion career working in her uncle’s tailoring shop. She also worked as a stock girl at a high-end boutique at the same time. She worked her way up and became the shop’s first black sales clerk and tailor.
Later on Valdes moved to Manhattan, NY area. In 1948, she opened her own boutique in Manhattan on Broadway and West 158th Street. In the 1950s, she moved "Chez Zelda" to 5"7th street in midtown. She developed a celebrity clientele following that included Josephine Baker, Mae West, Ella Fitzgerald, Dorothy Dandridge, Eartha Kitt, and Marian Anderson. Ms. Valdes also dressed the entire bridal party for the wedding of Marie Ellington and Nat King Cole. Ms. Valdes is also known as the designer of the original Playboy Bunny costume. June Bridals hawaiian beach wedding gown
She was one of the founders of the National Association of Fashion Accessory Designers, an industry group intended to promote black design professionals.
In 1970, Valdes designed costumes for, the Dance Theater of Harlem at the request of Arthur Mitchell. By 1992, Valdes would design costumes for eighty-two productions. She closed her business in 1989 but continued to work with the Dance Theater of Harlem until her death in 2001 at the age of 96.