BILL BLASS Biography - Socialites, celebrities and People in the fashion industry


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Name: Bill Blass                                                                     
Born: 22 June 1922 Fort Wayne, Indiana                                               
Died: 12 June 2002 New Preston, Connecticut                                           
William Ralph "Bill" Blass (June 22, 1922 – June 12, 2002) was an American         
fashion designer, born in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is known for his tailoring         
and his innovative combinations of textures and patterns. He is the recipient         
of many fashion awards, including seven Coty Awards and the Fashion Institute of     
Technology's Lifetime Achievement Award (1999).                                       
Bill Blass, born William Ralph Blass in 1922, was the son of a dressmaker and a       
traveling hardware salesman. His father committed suicide when Bill was five,         
and afterwards Bill found refuge in the arts.                                         
In his autobiography Blass wrote that the margins in his school books were           
filled with sketches of Hollywood-inspired fashions instead of notes. At fifteen,     
he began sewing, selling evening gowns for $25 each to a New York manufacturer.       
At 17 he had saved up enough money to move to Manhattan and study fashion. He         
excelled in his fashion studies immediately and at 18 was the first male to win       
Mademoiselle’s Design for Living award. He spent his salary of $30 a week on       
clothing, shoes, and elegant meals.                                                   
In 1942 Blass enlisted in the army. He was assigned to the 603rd Camouflage           
Battalion with a group of writers, artists, sound engineers, theater technicians,     
and other creative professionals. Their mission was to fool the German Army into     
believing the Allies were positioned in fake locations. They did this by using       
recordings, dummy tanks, and other false materials. The US Camouflage Battalion       
proved to be more successful than the European Camouflage Battalion.                 
Blass began his New York fashion career in 1946. He was a protégé of Baron de       
Gunzburg. In 1970, after two decades of success in menswear and womenswear, he       
bought Maurice Rentner Ltd., which he had joined in 1959, and renamed it Bill         
Blass Limited. Over the next 30 years he expanded his line to include                 
swimwear, furs, luggage, perfume, and chocolate. By 1998, his company had grown       
to a $700-million-a-year business.                                                   
Blass’ designs are best known for being wearable. In a time when other designers   
were designing clothes which were known more for being a work of art, Blass was       
designing clothing which even everyday women could wear day or night. According       
to Ellin Saltzman in the New York Times, "He took American sportswear to its         
highest level…giving it a clean, modern, impeccable style… He, probably more     
than any designer knew his customer and understood her."                             
In 1999 Blass sold Bill Blass Limited for $50 million and retired to his home in     
New Preston, Connecticut. Blass was diagnosed with oral/tongue cancer in 2000.       
It later became throat cancer and caused Blass's 2002 death. Blass was a             
connoisseur of antiquities, and his will bequeathed half his $52 million estate,     
as well as several important ancient sculptures, to the Metropolitan Museum of