James Galanos set up a Los Angeles workshop in 1951 from which he created elegant evening confections that sheathed a Who’s Who of political, entertainment and social figures.
Now the designer, who retired in 1998, is joining a Who’s Who of fashion as the 2007 recipient of the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style Award. Galanos becomes the 11th person to receive the honor, along with Gianni and Donatella Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, Edith Head, James Acheson, Milena Canonero, Herb Ritts, Mario Testino, Tom Ford and Giorgio Armani.
In an interview, Galanos bemoaned the lack of propriety in current fashions. “Once everyone started wearing blue jeans, I knew it was time to get out of the business,” he said. “What happened to the days when a woman could turn heads in a restaurant by the way she was dressed?”
Peri Ellen Berne, co-chair of the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style and store director of Fendi Beverly Hills, said: “He is clearly known for graceful, understated classic designs, but at the same time, he always did a twist, [such as] a big bell sleeve or a little collar detail.”
Former first lady Nancy Reagan, who wore Galanos’ dresses in the White House, and Betsy Bloomingdale will chair the Walk of Style induction ceremony on Oct. 18, the final day of Los Angeles Fashion Week. Galanos will be feted with a plaque on Rodeo Drive; an outdoor exhibition of Galanos’ images taken by photographer Victor Skrebneski will run with the event from Oct. 14 to 28.
The ceremony will be an intimate luncheon, a departure from galas in previous years. “We like to have it where each time is something unique and different,” Berne said. Doris Raymond, owner of Los Angeles vintage resource The Way We Wore, pointed out the designer has a following among today’s starlets. Maria Bello wore a blue Galanos dress to the Critics’ Choice Awards in January, and Jessica Alba has picked up Galanos’ cocktail wear from Raymond.
“His silhouettes transcend time,” Raymond said. “His pieces were made uniquely….He infuses them with craftsmanship and is a true artisan.”
This story first appeared in the September 17, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.