Fashion Designer Who Created The Famous Playboy Bunny Costume For Hugh Hefner

You may not have heard of Zelda Wynn Valdes, but you’ve certainly seen her designs. The fashion designer is credited with creating the original Playboy bunny costume. The work of this trailblazing fashion designer/entrepreneur  is credit with highlighting the coveted hour-glass figure in the 1940s and 1950s.  In honor of Women’s History Month here are 10 interesting facts about this fashion maven.

  1. Fashion legend  Zelda Wynn Valdes was the first black designer and costumer to open her own shopFashion Designer Who Created The Famous Playboy Bunny Costume For Hugh Hefner
  2. She was the first black-owned business on Broadway in 1948.
  3. She began developing her skills by learning from her grandmother and working for her uncle’s tailoring business.
  4. Her  designs have been worn by famous entertainers such as Dorothy Dandridge, Josephine Baker,Joyce Bryant, Marian Anderson, Josephine Baker, Ella Fitzgerald,  Mae West, Ruby Dee, Eartha Kitt and Sarah Vaughan and many others.


  5. Zelda had a gift of making women look beautiful with her designs that hugged the body and a woman’s shape . She once told a  New York Times reporter that she had a God given talent on making women look good.
  6. In 1948, Ms. Wynn would open her own boutique in Manhattan in what is now Washington Heights on Broadway and West 158th Street.  She would later move ‘Chez Zelda’ midtown to 57th street.
  7. She was president of the New York chapter of NAFAD, the National Association of Fashion and Accessory Designers, an organization of Black designers that was founded by Mary McLeod Bethune.
  8. The Pennsylvania-native’s key role in glamorizing women caught the attention of Playboy’s Hugh Hefner and he commissioned Zelda to design the first-ever Playboy Bunny costumes.
  9. She also played an integral role in the formation of the National Association of Fashion and Accessory Designers, which inspired many to continue to carry on the legacy of pursuing careers in the fashion industry.
  10. Zelda was 65 years old when Arthur Mitchell, creator of the first ballet company, asked her to design the outfits for the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She designed the costumes and supervised the wardrobe department for the dance group all the way up to her nineties.


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