DRESSING WITH LOPER: For tonight’s New York Pops 30th anniversary celebration that will honor her late father Danny Kaye, Dena Kaye wore a dress of her mother’s from the Fifties. The emerald green and black striped Don Loper gown is in such “incredible” condition that she hopes to stage an exhibition to give the designer his due.
As a teenager, Dena Kaye would visit the designer’s Beverly Hill boutique which was next door to Romanoff’s, a popular haunt with the Hollywood crowd in the Forties and Fifties. Known for wearing patent leather shoes and serious black suits, Loper dressed Lucille Ball and Ella Fitzgerald, among others. “Whenever I would visit my mother during on of her fitting in the salon, he would admonish me with, ‘Don’t wear trousers when you come in here, dear,’” Kaye said. “Don Loper is one of the unsung great designers of glam clothes of yesteryear in Hollywood. Some of his dresses are in the LA County Museum.”
Taking in “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity” at the Met Sunday, Kaye stopped in her tracks in front of a 1865 Monet painting that featured a woman in a hauntingly familiar dress. “I said, ‘My God, that’s my dress,” she said.
Retrieving her mother’s dresses from years ago including some Yves Saint Laurent also brought back memories of that designer. “I once had lunch in Paris with Saint Laurent, Pierre Berge and my mother in the Sixties,” she said, though the details of that occasion were lost on her younger self. “I could tell you what I wore — a very cool black shiny raincoat with black knit sleeves. I saw it in the Saint Laurent exhibition last year in Paris. I wish I still had it today.”