Iconic Designer Oleg Cassini’s Animal Legacy
Recently at Animal Fair Media we were searching the internet for wedding dress ideas for Lucky’s upcoming nuptials at the Jumeirah Essex House on July 12th, 2012, when we rediscovered the late Oleg Cassini’s stunning wedding gown designs! What most people probably don’t realize about the gifted designer, is that he was a loyal and dedicated animal advocate for many years.
The fashion icon, trendsetter and animal activist: was a man brilliant enough to change the face of history. Oleg Cassini was considered the Kennedy administration’s ‘Secretary of Style’, and was personally picked by Jacqueline Kennedy to be her leading fashion designer. Cassini went on to create over 300 outfits and looks for the First Lady that were worn at presidential events held while the Kennedy’s occupied The White House from 1961-1963. It’s during this time that Cassini became a resolute animal activist.
Oleg Cassini indulged Jackie Kennedy with a leopard coat and subsequently 250,000 leopards were killed as “Jackie Wannabes” raided the market for replicas. “After that I decided to never use (real) furs in my designs again. There’s no logic in real fur; it was a different time, when people didn’t have choices. Now it’s just a luxury item.” Cassini said. He became actively involved in various cruelty-free animal organizations opposed to furring; lending his voice and presence to his heartfelt cause.
Born in 1913 to aristocratic Russian parents who fled to Italy after the revolution, Cassini’s fate seemed to be sealed. His mother had to take up dressmaking to make ends meet after his family’s fortune dissipated. He followed his mother’s creative footsteps and entered the world of fashion. He moved to the United States in 1936 and took freelance design jobs until landing a permanent position with Paramount in the early 1940’s as a costume designer. He eventually progressed to designing coiffure and his name became synonymous with elegance and style. Cassini’s passion for beauty was prevalent in his personal life as well, once engaged to Grace Kelly and married to actress Gene Tierney.
Cassini held a lifelong love for animals and divided people into two categories: “those who like animals and those who don’t care about them.” His Long Island estate was home to more than 100 animals, including dogs, cats, miniature horses, potbellied pigs, a donkey, sheep, ducks and chickens. Always an avid rider, Cassini was an instructor in horsemanship in the U.S. Army’s Cavalry division, and took up harness racing at the age of seventy-four.
Oleg Cassini was a fashion visionary whose creativity transcended time and by leaving a compassionate cruelty-free legacy towards animals, he will be forever remembered and always in-style!