Arnold Scaasi, Designer to the Stars and First Ladies, Dies at 85
Arnold Scaasi, beloved fashion designer to the stars, especially among the First Ladies, died today at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City at the age of 85, WWD reports. The Canadian couturier was an exceptional force in the industry who was as bold and fearless with his designs as with his outspoken demeanor. The fact that he changed his last name from Isaacs (Scaasi is Isaacs spelled backwards) spoke to that as well—he wasn't one to settle for the ordinary.
Armed with unprecedented talent, Scaasi's career was littered with history-making looks (he was, after all, just a phone call away for the First Ladies of the United States). But perhaps, his most distinguished designs were worn by the Barb(a)ras. Barbra Streisand slipped on sequined Scaasi evening pajamas for the 1969 Academy Awards where she won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in Funny Girl. The look went down in history as one of the unforgettables.
As for the other, Barbara Bush joined President George H.W. Bush on stage at the 1989 U.S. Presidential Inaugural Ball in a lush royal blue velvet Scaasi creation with a sweeping satin skirt (below, right). Other First Ladies that Scaasi had dressed include Mamie Eisenhower (she once wore an incredible gold brocade gown to a White House reception, center), Laura Bush (left, in a scarlet sequined design with President George W. Bush), Jackie Kennedy, and Hillary Clinton.
Scaasi donated and sold his archives to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston in 2009. As the fashion world mourns a loss, his designs live on.