Oleg Cassini jewellery
Oleg Cassini jewellery
To find jewellery signed by his name is extremely rare, a few ornaments at auction for months. Born on April 11, 1913 in Paris, Cassini was of Russian-Italian origin. His father Alexander Loiewski was Russian diplomat, and his mother was Italian Countess Marguerite Cassini. Cassini spent his early childhood between Russia and Denmark, where his father was a diplomat at the Russian Embassy. His family members were landed aristocracy in Russia until 1917. In the 40’s and 50’s he designed costumes for 20th Century Fox and other studios and stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, Grace Kelly, and Gene Tierney.
Iconic designer, Oleg Cassini was an officially personal couturier for Jackie Kennedy. Being animal lover he created collections of man-made fashion fur, the ‘evolutionary furs’. A late convert to animal rights, he blamed himself for the loss of 250,000 leopards, as women copied a coat he once designed for Jackie Kennedy. He renounced the killing of animals and kept his word by introducing micro-fiber fake furs in 1999. According to Cassini, what he was designing was as elegant and attractive as fur, but it eliminated the enormous cruelty toward animals. As a result, Cassini received the James Herriot Award (All Creatures Great and Small) as the Man of the Year from the Humane Society of the US.
According to his autobiography, Cassini provided the suggestion to President Kennedy to take steps to organize The Bureau of Indian Affairs, the action which led to the American Indian Movement. Cassini was named an honorary member of the Chickasaw and Navajo nations in 1981 due to his fund raising and organization of gala charity events for the tribes. Oleg and his brother Igor, in addition to organizing events, collected 64,000 dollar and donated $32,000 to the tribal charities.
For the President Kennedy’s Inauguration in 1961, Cassini dressed the First Lady in a fawn beige wool coat with a small sable collar and a matching pillbox hat. Soon, it seemed, women all over the world followed the First Lady’s image. In 1963 the world saw another pink pillbox hat by Cassini on Mrs. Kennedy, when she was next to the President when he was assassinated. In less than 3 years Cassini created about three hundred outfits for the First Lady. His creativity was inspired by Russian, Italian, French, Oriental, and Native American cultures. His collection of Jacqueline Kennedy’s dresses was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2001. Some pieces of her wardrobe were sold at auctions.
Oleg Cassini led a fast jet-set life and wrote his autobiography “In My Own Fashion” in 1987. In his 1995 book, “A Thousand Days of Magic: Dressing Jacqueline Kennedy for the White House,” Mr. Cassini wrote, “All I remember about those days are nerves, and Jackie on the phone: ‘Hurry, hurry, Oleg, I’ve got nothing to wear.'”
Cassini became an American citizen in 1942. He served in the Coast Guard and in the U.S. Cavalry Corps, and soon earned his lieutenant’s bars. After the end of WWII he was discharged and moved back to New York, where he opened the ‘Oleg Cassini’ Salon on the East 55th Street.
The first of his two daughters was born deaf, due to Tierney’s measles infection. Before and after his two marriages Cassini was known as a ladies’ man. He dated actresses Betty Grable, Lana Turner, Ursula Andress among others. He was always seen in the company of starlets, debutantes, heiresses, ingenues, showgirls.
Cassini died on March 17, 2006, on Long Island, New York, where he had an Oyster Bay home, previously owned by the Tiffany family. He was arguably the oldest famous fashion designer in the world.