When it comes to prestigious American designers, there isn't anyone quite as iconic as James Galanos—or "Jimmy" as he was known to his tight-knit circle of elite clients, including First Lady Nancy Reagan and Grace Kelly. The 92-year-old couturier died Sunday at his home in West Hollywood.
During his illustrious career, Galanos earned recognition and racked up countless awards—the Coty Fashion Awards (twice: one in 1954 and another in 1956), the CFDA's Lifetime Achievement Award in 1985, and a bronze plaque on NYC's "Fashion Walk of Fame" to name a few—for his lifelong dedication to dreaming up beautiful, breathtaking creations. It's why Galanos was Reagan's favorite designer, having worn his designs before she became First Lady, during (at her husband's 1981 inaugural ball, pictured above, and her first state dinner at the White House), and long after.
"Ronnie liked Jimmy's clothes very much,” Reagan said in a Vanity Fair article, according to the New York Times. "Wearing Jimmy meant never going overboard or to extremes. Jimmy really set the standard."
And even though Galanos was never interested in dressing celebrities, preferring to outfit high society, that didn't stop the Hollywood set from seeking out his designs for the red carpet even after his 1998 retirement. From Katie Holmes to Amber Valletta, scroll through to see nine of his most memorable designs.
1. Nancy Reagan, 1967
Nancy Reagan was a fan of James Galanos's work before her time as First Lady. Here, she struck a pose at the California State Capitol, in a belted burnt orange number by Galanos.
2. Nancy Reagan, 1967
Reagan was snapped leaving the California Governor's Mansion in a mesmerizing graphic-patterned coat by James Galanos.
3. Nancy Reagan, 1981
For Ronald Reagan's 1981 inaugural ball, the First Lady chose a $22,500 one-shoulder hand-beaded gown by James Galanos.
4. Nancy Reagan, 1983
The First Lady looked like royalty at a gala for the Queen of England in a rich purple James Galanos gown with gold accents.
5. Celine Dion, 2007
The singer was the epitome of understated elegance at the Oscars in a plunging olive green James Galanos design with a draped wrap-front bodice and a slim evening skirt.
6. Katie Holmes, 2007
Katie Holmes welcomed the Beckhams to Los Angeles in the most spectacular fashion: a siren-red column by James Galanos.
7. Heidi Klum, 2009
Sweet, flirty, and timeless—the supermodel turned heads at the Globes in a fit-and-flared polka-dot James Galanos creation with a sweetheart neckline and a dramatic flower at the waist.
8. Amber Valletta, 2009
For the 2009 Met Gala, the supermodel played up the theme to a T—"The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion"—in a stunning marigold yellow James Galanos gown.
9. Laura Carmichael, 2015
The Downton Abbey star was impossibly chic at the Gobes in a one-shoulder vintage James Galanos gown.