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James Galanos Remembered

November 7, 2016

James Galanos, the renowned Philadelphia born designer whose garments were coveted by the social elite, Hollywood movie stars, and political fashion icons passed on Sunday, October 31. Celebrated for his elegant style, dedication to glamour and immaculate craftsmanship, Galanos will be remembered for his independent vision as a designer, dressing the likes of Marlene Dietrich, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Diana Ross, Maria (Mrs. Nat King) Cole, Jaqueline Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, and most famously Nancy Reagan, who wore his designs on four inaugural occasions.

This September, the James G. Galanos Foundation donated 700 of his designs to our Robert and Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection. Photographs and ephemera from Galanos’ fifty-year career will also be acquired by Drexel’s James G. Galanos Archives. In a Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) feature commemorating Galanos, Director and Chief Curator of the Robert & Penny Fox Historic Costume Collection, Clare Sauro, was quoted, “We are constantly amazed at the quality of the textiles. It is one of the things that you read about. Until you actually see them up close — rack after rack after rack of these garments — it is absolutely astonishing the variety and the textures and the colors. They’re just incredibly sumptuous and beautiful.” 

Galanos has a legacy of earning the industry’s top honors, including several Coty Awards (the Academy Awards of American Fashion up until the mid-1980s), a lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, one of the first spots on the Fashion Walk of Fame on New York City’s Seventh Avenue. In a 2008 article with WWD Galanos stated, “I had my career. I never looked back. I only look at tomorrow.” To learn more about his incredible career, be sure to visit the tributes honoring the life and career of James Galanos by The New York Times, Vogue, and The Washington Post