Article Nov 28, 2016

You are no longer passing

Fashion legend James Galanos dies aged 92

Legendary designer James Galanos has died at the age of 92.

The fashion expert, who was a favorite of former U.S. First Lady Nancy Reagan, passed away on Sunday (30Oct16) from natural causes, his friend and fellow designer Ralph Rucci has confirmed.

“He’s a touchstone, like (designer Cristobal) Balenciaga,” Rucci said in a statement. “He really didn’t like to give interviews. He believed the clothes spoke. He worked. He had integrity, he had great humility. Sometimes that was misinterpreted as snobbism. No - there was a great intensity to his craft.”

Galanos briefly studied at the Traphagen School of Fashion in New York in the early 1940s before starting his career as a freelancer, sketching and selling ideas to various manufacturers.

In 1945 he moved to Los Angeles after being hired by textile businessman Lawrence Lesavoy and his wife, after which he moved to Paris to assist designer Robert Piguet.

Upon moving back to the U.S. in 1948, Galanos decided to establish his own label, launching Galanos Originals in 1952, which was picked up by stores such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Alongside his own brand, Galanos began creating costumes for Hollywood stars, with clients including Judy Garland and Diana Ross.

His luxurious and expensive pieces also caught the attention of other famous figures, notably Nancy Reagen, who once professed, "Nobody could afford to dress completely with Jimmy. I hang on to what I have," in regards to the designer’s high prices.

Other stars to wear his creations were Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy.

When Galanos retired from fashion in 1998 to pursue photography, he was asked what he considered to be the highlight of his career.

"The highlight of my career is simply existing for 46 years. The most important thing I have done is to maintain what I started out to do," he shared.

"I never deviated from what was most important, which was quality."