The strapless corset, bunny ears, pantyhose, collar, cuffs, and fluffy cottontail are iconic. The Playboy bunny suit will forever be popular in culture, what you probably didn’t know is that Zelda Wynn Valdes a black seamstress created the original costume, Hugh Hefner personally commissioned her to do it. Fitting curvaceous women is what Zelda did best and is the key to the rediscovery of her.
There is much more to the incredible Zelda Wynn Valdes legacy than the Playboy lifestyle. She was the oldest of 7 children born in Chambersburg Pennsylvania. Zelda created the perfect fit dress for her grandmother who told her she was too big and tall for Zelda to create her something, this is when her passion began.
In the 1930s she worked as a stock girl in an upscale boutique and became the first black sales clerk and tailor. She opened her own boutique called Chez Zelda, making her the first black person to own a store on Broadway in Manhattan. She sold low -cut, body-hugging gowns that perfectly extenuated a woman’s curves. Valdes sexy- but- sophisticated dresses were worn and adored by Josephine Baker, Dorthy Dandridge, and Mae West to name a few.
Although Zelda made unbelievable contributions to the fashion industry she was often overlooked, it makes you think. How many other amazing women of color are we overlooking in history?