Oleg Cassini's Career in Fashion

by Sarah Clark
Fashion School Review Columnist

March 3, 2010

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Oleg Cassini, best known for his designs worn by Jacqueline Kennedy, enjoyed one of the longest careers of any fashion designer. Spanning 70 years, his career in fashion was staggeringly glamorous and successful.

Though Cassini had pursued a career in fashion since the 1930s, he did not reach celebrity status for his work until the 1960s, when he began designing dresses and gowns for first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Cassini was the designer responsible for Jackie's signature look during her years in the White House: the pillbox hat, A-line dresses, and always feminine silhouettes.

Cassini was known for loving women's curves and his designs flattered them in a manner that was always stylish yet reserved. He was critical of designs that covered women's curves, especially the baby doll dresses that the French popularized during the 1960s. He preferred cuts that reflected the shape of an hour glass figure.

Cassin's Fashion Education

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While Cassini didn't receive his fashion education from a bona-fide fashion school (in his day, fashion schools didn't exist to the extent they do now), he did attend an art school where he perfected his drawing techniques. His fashion schooling didn't involve attending classes or taking exams; rather, he learned about design by going to Paris while he was still living under his parent's roof, sketching the latest fashions for his mother, a businesswoman with a sense of style who replicated and sold the latest French fashions to the Italian clothing market.

Fashion Design Jobs

Cassini eventually moved to New York City, where he held a fashion job working for a designer. He would hold another job, working as a wardrobe designer for B-list film productions in Los Angeles. It was his work with Jackie, however, that would finally give him near worldwide recognition as an accomplished couturier.

He took his fame and used it to sell clothing and accessories to the mass clothing market, which bore his name on everything from scarves and belts to pantyhose and dresses.

At the age of 92 on March 17, 2006 Cassini died at his Long Island home, leaving behind a wife, two daughters, four grandchildren and a sparkling legacy the fashion elite will long remember.

Ready to take the first step with your own fashion career? Many fashion programs require that you have a traditional or online high school diploma, and then you can search for fashion programs to suit your interests.


About the Author
Sarah Clark is a freelance writer specializing in career development and postsecondary education.

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