Her clients were paying nearly $1,000 to have a Zelda Wynn couture gown. Describing her design process for Fitzgerald in a New York Times feature, Valdes said, “I only fit her once in 12 years. Fashion and Costume Designer, Zelda Wynn Valdes. When Eartha Kitt or Marlene Dietrich called, she was ready. Zelda Wynn Valdes - Biography. Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes was born on June 28, 1905, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. When you picture Hugh Hefner’s go-to gal, workaholic fashion designer Zelda Wynn Valdes might not be the first woman who comes to mind. Dorothy Dandridge was also a faithful client, as well as Gladys Knight. However, she was born in a small town, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania south of … Zelda Wynn Valdes (1905 - 2001) was born in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, in an era when segregation was a part-and-parcel of daily life. Zelda (June 1905 – September 26, 2001) more than just a seamstress began her career in the peak years of Jim Crow segregation in Charlotte, North Carolina. Born in 1905, Wynn Valdes was the eldest of seven children raised in Chambersburg, Pa. After she took an interest in sewing under the tutelage of her grandmother’s seamstress, one of Wynn Valdes’ first designs was for her grandmother, who, as Wynn Valdes recounted to the New York Times in 1994, doubted her granddaughter’s ability to design a dress for her “too tall and too big” frame. After conquering Hollywood, Valdes become the head costume designer for the Dance Theatre of Harlem for 18 year before she retired in 1988. Chez Zelda was the dressing room for some pretty big-name clients. Zelda Wynn Valdes "Zelda falls in line with some of the most influential designers of the era. In 1948, she opened her own shop on Broadway in New York City which was the first in the area to be owned by an African American. Early design talent wasn’t limited to black females. Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes was the first Black designer to open her own shop, which was the first black-owned business on Broadway in New York City, New York in 1948. And being able to master both costume design and … Zelda Wynn Valdes had a high profile clientele, creating gowns and costumes for Eartha Kitt, Dorothy Dandridge, Marian Anderson, Josephine Baker, and Ella Fitzgerald. Mae West in a Zelda design. Mae West knew Zelda Wynn Valdes was the only woman who could make each dress tighter, and more elegant than the last. Designer, Zelda Wynn Valdes, in the Harlem Theatre. Having 40 years in the fashion industry, Zelda was a celebrity dressmaker and sole creator of the original Playboy bunny costume. Zelda Wynn Valdes (1905-2001) is an African American costume and fashion designer. The location created even more exclusivity around her brand: Valdes was now a queen of the custom market. In the early 1960s Valdes forged a relationship with Hugh Hefner and his chain … One of the earliest black designers who achieved international fame was Stephan Burrows. Before she created the original, legendary Playboy Bunny outfit and stage costumes for the Dance Theater of Harlem, Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes … I had to do everything by imagination for her. But Hef did choose Valdes… Fashion legend Zelda Wynn Valdes (1905 – 2001) was the first black designer and costumer to open her own shop, which was the first black-owned business on Broadway in 1948.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 … Zelda Wynn Valdes (June 28, 1905 – September 26, 2001) was an African-American fashion designer and costumer.